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Senate mulls to investigate deployment of mercenaries .. Print

June 15 2006

Senate mulls to investigate deployment of mercenaries in the Middle East.

The Philippine Senate is mulling to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation on the alleged deployment of Filipino mercenaries to Iraq and Afghanistan.Senator Rodolfo Biazon, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, said in a media interview that he is still collecting documents on the controversial recruitment of Filipino mercenaries to fight America's war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Biazon said he will still determine the details behind the contract, adding that he will decide on whether his committee will conduct a public hearing on the issue once he gets sufficient documents.
Biazon reportedly just got a copy of the alleged contract between the American private military company Blackwater USA and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority where the recruitment and "jungle training" has allegedly been ongoing.

Malacanang earlier said that it does not know of the alleged recruitment of Filipino mercenaries for Iraq and Afghanistan by Blackwater USA.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales both denied any knowledge in the recruitment in SBMA.

Gonzales even called the controversy that is running in series in Malaya newspaper as a figment of the imagination.

Blackwater is reportedly paying Filipinos half of the USD60,000 to USD80,000 a year that American recruits get.

The job allegedly includes securing US diplomats and military officials in Iraq and escorting supply convoys.

The firm reportedly prefers recruits with military background or special forces training, which sources said, could drain the ranks of junior officers and enlisted men with combat experience in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police.

There are an estimated 3,000 Filipinos serving in US camps in Iraq, most of whom were on-site before the ban was imposed in 2004 after the kidnapping of driver Angelo dela Cruz. They mainly serve as service personnel. 

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