Rep. Gary C. Alejano of the Magdalo Party-list denounced as malicious and irresponsible the reports being spread by a former undersecretary in the Arroyo administration linking their organization to the Maute Group whose terrorist campaign in Marawi City President Duterte said compelled him to declare Martial Law in Mindanao on May 23.
“This is the height of irresponsibility of those involved in spreading this fake and malicious information especially in this trying times when our brothers and sisters in Marawi need all the support from the Filipino people. I categorically deny that Magdalo is involved in any terroristic acts or is affiliated with any terrorist groups. The intelligence community could affirm this as we have constant engagements with them,” Alejano, speaking for the group, said in a statement.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, one of the officials of the political organization, said “it is obviously a black propaganda, a very vicious one.” He said he will address the issue after a scheduled briefing by military officials for senators on Monday.
Former Undersecretary for Special Concerns Abraham ‘Abe’ Purugganan wrote in his Facebook page on May 25, “There is prior information last April of pilferages of firearms by Magdalo group for allegedly continuing ‘special ops’ during the Ramadan to sustain disturbances operation’.
“Now, some Maute members are reportedly also members of the Magdalo Party-list or the Samahan Magdalo.
“I am trying to withhold my conclusion pending more information to confirm this but my experience in intelligence analysis tells me that there is a connection especially when all information points toward Magdalo.
“Precautions have to be made.”
Purugganan was a former spokesman of the Young Officers Union (YOU), a group of young military officers who staged the December 1989 coup d’etat against the government of Corazon Aquino in 1989. The coup attempt paralyzed the commercial center of Makati.
Purugganan joined the government of Gloria Arroyo as undersecretary of Presidential Adviser on special concerns Norberto Gonzales.He no longer holds any government post.
He describes himself in Linkedin as a “freelance consultant.” His company, Strategic and Risk Management Consulting, helps “private and public organizations achieve their corporate operational & strategic objectives and minimize risks: organizational risk, reputation risk, financial risk, operational risk, and cyber risk among other risks that can affect an organization.”
His post on Magdalo’s alleged connection with the Maute Group appeared in his Face book page with the image title “I support Martial Law” at 10:47 p.m. of May 25, two days after the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.As of May 27, the post was shared by 9,488.
Online sites that shared the post did not have information about owners, one of the attributes of fake news.
Alejano said they are gathering evidence on who are behind the spread of this false information. Their lawyers are also studying legal action. “Binabalaan po namin ang mga taong sangkot na alisin at burahin ang mga ganitong kasinungalingan. Ang mga sangkot ay nais lamang sirain ang aming reputasyon at ibaling sa amin ang galit ng tao na sa halip ay magalit tayo sa totoong mga may pakana at nagsagawa ng pag-atake sa Marawi (We are warning those involved to erase the lies they are spreading. Those involved want to destroy our reputation and divert towards us the anger of the people for those behind the attack in Marawi.)
“The Magdalo group strongly condemns the dastardly acts perpetrated by the Maute group and other lawless elements in Marawi City. We sympathize with the people of Marawi and urge the government to swiftly resolve the crisis with minimum damage to innocent lives and properties. I am confident with the capability of our Armed Forces to deal with this situation as they have proven in the past incidents even without the declaration of martial law,” Alejano, a former Marines officer said.
Alejano and Trillanes belong to Samahang Magdalo and came to prominence when they, together with about 300 soldiers, seized the Oakwood Hotel at the Makati Commercial Center in July 2003 in protest against the government of Gloria Arroyo. They made another failed attempt against Arroyo in November 2007 at the Manila Peninsula.
Almost all the core members of the Magdalo group were imprisoned for seven years. While in detention, Trillanes ran for senator in 2007 and won. He was re-elected in 2013.
The Magdalo Party-list won two seats in the 2013 elections. In the 2016 elections, the group got one seat.
The Samahang Magdalo has grown into a nationwide organization. Members who have violated the mission of the group, Alejano said, have been expelled, pointing out that the protest action they mounted in July 2003 was to denounce the irregularities in the military.
“Security sector reforms are a major part of the legislative agenda of the Magdalo in Congress when we joined politics then and now being former members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Rest assured that the best interest of the Filipino people and the country is foremost in our minds,” he said.