Vice President’s Office Says It Imported Weapons For Safety
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Vice President Salvador Laurel has imported 70 firearms for his personal security force because of fears for his safety in ″these critical times,″ his spokesman said today.
Spokesman Manuel Malvar said the weapons order was authorized by the Philippine Constabulary and that it was made before the current spate of rumors that a military faction was plotting a coup.
The weapons, including pistols and shotguns worth nearly $43,000, arrived two days ago but have not been released by customs, Malvar said.
″The military suggested that the vice president be given the (extra) protection in these critical times,″ Malvar said. ″Whether we like it or not, the vice president of the Philippines is the president-in-waiting. If anything happens to the president, we could prevent them from killing the vice president.″
Malvar did not mention any specific threats against Laurel but said they could come ″from the left, the right, from ambitious people.″
″There is a recognition (of the threat) because the other day, (Laurel) admitted the situation in the Philippines is fluid and unstable because we are operating under a revolutionary government,″ he said.
The Philippine Constabulary, the law enforcement arm of the Defense Ministry, provides security for Cabinet members, including the vice president.
But it is common in the Philippines, which has a long history of election violence, for politicians to employ their own personal bodyguards.
Philippine newspapers have frequently reported the existence of a ″Yellow Army″ organized at the family plantation of President Corazon Aquino to protect her from any threat from military dissidents or others. Military officials have confirmed that special presidential guards have been undergoing training at the plantation, Hacienda Luisita.
Yellow, the favorite color of Mrs. Aquino’s late husband, Benigno, has become identified with her ″people power″ movement. The former senator and opposition leader was assassinated in 1983 at Manila Airport upon his return from exile.