AT 80th AFP RITES IN CLARK
    Media cries discrimination

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    CLARK FREEPORT — Members of the local media decried yesterday “discrimination and harassment” by organizers of the 80th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) graced here yesterday by Pres. Aquino.

    Officers of the Pampanga Press Club (PPC) noted yesterday that while local media were invited to cover the event at the Haribon aviation complex of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) here, they were virtually “given hard time” by military security personnel.

    “Metro Manila-based reporters were readily allowed access to the parking space for media, while members of the local press were questioned for lack of vehicle pass which they were never informed about,” said PPC acting president Eric Jimenez.

    Members of local media also noted that while reporters from Metro Manila were allowed to enter the Haribon complex via the same entry available to ranking guests, local media were told to walk some 300 meters farther to another gate also used by uninvited spectators.

    The PPC noted that unlike previous presidential visits, security measures adopted yesterday at the Haraibon complex were unusually stricter. Vehicles were rerouted for layers of security checks, on top of at least four inspection of bags carried by local media folk.

    “This discrimination against provincial media only reflects the Aquino administration’s virtual advocacy of imperial Metro Manila as supreme, as against federal government fairness,” said incoming PPC president Deng Pangilinan.

    Pangilinan also said that “if this is the kind of anti-country folk stance that administration candidate Mar Roxas would carry on, he is apt to lose his presidential bid.”

    A source from the PIA who asked not to be quoted admitted that the policy adopted for local media yesterday were upon orders of higher officials of the Malacanang Press Office.

    Most of local media who had wanted to cover the event left instead, while others who persisted through the “arduous coverage requirements” noted the convenience that their Metro Manila-based peers were able to access the space allocated for media coverage at the Haribon complex.

    The anniversary rites featured the high-speed opener pass of two FA-50s, inspection of troops, and conferment of recognitions to AFP personnel and partners.

    The President witnessed a pass-in-review of mounted and dismounted contingents composed of a 117-person team from AFP Special Units, 11 wheeled armor vehicles, 53 tracked armor vehicles, 14 artillery vehicles, five engineer vehicles, 15 combat service support, 12 humanitarian and disaster response vehicles, four affiliate reservist vehicles, and 54 motor military vehicles in static display.

    The rites were highlighted by the fly-by of 40 newly-acquired aircraft including 16 Stello Frati 260FH, one Construcciones Aeronauticas SA (CASA) C-295, three Bell 412 combat utility helicopters, four UH-D helicopters, three Sokol Rescue Helicopters, five Philippine Air Force Augusta Westland (AW) 109 attack helicopters, three Philippine Navy AW 109 helicopters, two C-130 Hercules, and three UH-1 helicopters.

    This year’s celebration carried the theme “At 80: Advancing, Transforming to Protect the People and Secure the State.”

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