said on Sunday that the sudden pullout of the security detail of
Joseph Estrada was an “honest mistake” and that the detail was
now back with the former President.
Forces chief of staff, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., told reporters
the soldiers assigned to protect Estrada were recalled to the mother
units for a briefing on the elections in May.
[Estrada’s security detail] were gathered to keep them updated on
matters about election… about current issues and that is a regular
matter,” Esperon said.
detail was pulled out on Saturday, the day the opposition coalition
held its proclamation rally in Plaza Miranda.
presidents and their immediate family are entitled to no less than
three soldiers as guard detail. Estrada had 15 soldiers assigned to
criticized the withdrawal of Estrada’s bodyguards at a time when
the military itself is claiming there was a communist plot to
“It was an
honest mistake on the part of security… but the matter of
recalling his [Estrada’s] security detail every now and then is
routine,” Esperon said.
He said the
bodyguards of the other presidents were also temporarily withdrawn
for administrative reasons.
given lectures and release again so they know what they are doing in
the field. They are not there just to secure or make them look good
before the VIPs,” Esperon said.
is facing plunder charges, has been under house arrest in his rest
house in Tanay, Rizal.
The AFP chief
had said that reports of the assassination were yet to be verified
but that they were probably accurate.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita repeated the explanation of
Esperon but added that the pullout should not raise any concern.
raised the possibility of permanently withdrawing military personnel
detailed to elected officials.
son, San Juan Mayor Joseph Victor Ejercito, called the stripping of
the ex-president of his security detail a “renewed political
“That is a
part of a political persecution. Again, every time there is a
campaign season such things happen. He is entitled to security being
a former president. It is a clear violation of his privilege,”
He also said
the pullout was one of the Palace’s “inconsistent” moves.
“Why remove these trusted security that he is entitled to they
claim there is a threat to Estrada’s life,” he said.
Estrada’s media officer, said a letter from the Armed Forces dated
February 15 ordered the recall of the security detail.
received the letter last Saturday.
signed by AFP adjutant, Gen. Cmdr. Paterno Labiano, on behalf of
Esperon, did not state the reason for the withdrawal, but said the
order was effective January 14.
military spokesman, Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro, said the recall
order was a “generic directive” to all military escorts of
politicians, but that it did not cover Estrada.
Estrada’s security detail was “sent recall orders but were not
recalled,” adding that Esperon’s order was mainly “for
that while the Estrada camp wants certain restrictions on the former
President relaxed, his security and safety remain important in view
of the alleged death threats.
clarified that it’s not the Presidential Security Group but the
AFP’s Headquarters and Headquarters Support Group that is
providing close-in security to former presidents.
considered as the opposition’s figurehead, was recently barred by
authorities from receiving visitors other than his direct family and
lawyers, on the recommendation of National Security Adviser Norberto
camp believes Gonzales merely wanted to isolate Estrada from his
political allies and prevent him from becoming a rallying figure of
the opposition in the May 14 elections.
and Francis Earl A. Cueto