Tuesday, September 13, 2005

2 RP Spies?

Two Men Are Charged With Passing Secrets to Philippines
NEWARK, Sept. 12 - A Federal Bureau of Investigation intelligence analyst and a former top Philippines law enforcement official were charged in federal court on Monday with espionage.
Arrested were the F.B.I. analyst, Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, of Woodbury, N.J., a naturalized United States citizen who was born in the Philippines, and Michael Ray Aquino, 39, of Queens, a former deputy director of the Philippines National Police under the government of the former president Joseph Estrada. The two men are accused of passing classified agency information to government officials in Manila in a case that appeared related to the Philippines' fractious internal politics.
According to affidavits by F.B.I. agents, Mr. Aragoncillo passed copies of classified F.B.I. documents about the Philippines to Mr. Aquino between February and August of this year by way of cellphone text messages and e-mail messages through Hotmail and Yahoo accounts.
Both men were ordered held without bail by United States Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz. Mr. Aquino, who was in the United States on an expired six-month tourist visa that was issued in 2001, also faces possible deportation.
Messages intercepted by investigators were heavily edited in the court affidavit but appeared to deal with F.B.I. information about the domestic political turmoil in the Philippines. The ultimate destination of the information, according to the court papers, were three unnamed public officials in the Philippines.
United States Attorney Christopher J. Christie declined to characterize the information that the two men are said to have passed. While the information did not involve terrorism or national security directly, he said: "Crimes like these strike at the heart of our national security because they involve our keeping our secrets secret. These defendants will face the full weight of federal prosecution."
Mr. Aquino has long been the subject of attempts by the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to link him with the 2000 kidnapping and slaying of a Manila public relations executive and his driver. While he has never been officially charged, Mr. Aquino has, in his absence, been at the center of several court proceedings to implicate him and a current opposition lawmaker, Senator Panfilo Lacson, in the 2000 crimes and other corruption charges.
Officials at the Philippines Embassy did not return two telephone calls seeking comment on the arrests and their possible implications for the country's politics. Recent news reports from Manila have portrayed the Arroyo government as under political siege by a number of former Estrada administration officials and Senator Lacson, who have joined in a coalition with former members of Mrs. Arroyo's cabinet, the Catholic Church and supporters of the former president Corazón Aquino.
Mr. Aquino is not related to the former president.
According to United States Marine Corps records, Mr. Aragoncillo joined the corps in 1983 and served as a unit diary clerk for much of his 21 years in the service. He retired as an administration chief. During that time he was stationed in Japan, at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, and in the Quantico, Va., headquarters of the vice presidential security detail. He earned six good conduct medals and other citations.
Leslie G. Wiser Jr., the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.'s Newark office, said Monday that the agency's investigation of Mr. Aragoncillo began after he contacted American immigration officials on behalf of Mr. Aquino, who had overstayed his tourist visa. Mr. Aragoncillo identified himself to immigration officials as an F.B.I. employee, according to Mr. Wiser, and attempted to vouch for Mr. Aquino, who was facing deportation hearings.
Immigration officials notified the F.B.I., Mr. Wiser said, and the agency began an audit of Mr. Aragoncillo's computer activities.
Asked if Mr. Aragoncillo's motive was financial or political, Mr. Christie said early indications were that both were involved, but that the investigation was continuing.


Be Not Afraid Movement said...

Ninoy is a Patriot and is one with the Filipino people in seeking the Truth

The Be Not Afraid Movement, one of the major groups leading the movement asking for President Arroyo’s resignation, today confirmed that former police officer Michael Ray Aquino is one of the respected members of their movement.

Be Not Afraid (BNA) Movement chairman Atty. Ramon Pedrosa said BNA has chapters nationwide and in overseas cities with Filipino communities. Aquino helps organize and disseminate information regarding BNA activities in New York.

“Like all leaders and members of the BNA, Ninoy, as he is often called, has been gathering and passing on any and all information that would help advance the cause of truth and justice in the Philippines but has never compromised US security. For that alone, Ninoy is a Filipino patriot. There is nothing criminal about what he does as a committed leader of the BNA in the United States,” Pedrosa said.

Be Not Afraid Movement however questioned the timing and manner of Aquino’s arrest because it was undertaken secretly and in the eve of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s arrival in New York.

US officials only made the public disclosure of the arrest and espionage case on the same day Arroyo arrived in the United States. The Philippine Consulate in New York was not immediately informed of the arrest, the group said.

“Was the arrest made to disable Aquino from initiating and joining protest actions against President Arroyo? Aquino, as New York Convenor of the Be Not Afraid (BNA) Movement, has been enjoined by the BNA National Council to show to the world that GMA stole the Presidency and used its powers to cover up her many other sins to the Filipino people. As such, Mrs. Arroyo has no right to speak on behalf of the Filipino people at the United Nations. Aquino and the rest of BNA-USA are therefore tasked to undertake or join protest actions when GMA arrives in the United States,” the group pointed out.

“Ironically, the arrest of Aquino and the charges of espionage against him seems to be an acknowledgment by the US government that it has been conducting espionage activities in the Philippines because of its own admission that the supposed intelligence leakages which Aquino allegedly obtained are all about Philippine politics,” Pedrosa said.

BNA said that the admission of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that Aquino had obtained highly classified information about the Philippines is a clear and undeniable admission that the US government is actively involved in espionage in Philippine soil.

“With the FBI’s own admission that some of the supposed intelligence data obtained are about certain political personalities in the Philippines, it is obvious that the US government is spying on Filipino politicians. So what’s new?,” he quipped.

Pedrosa asked the US government to make a full disclosure of its espionage activities in the Philippines because based on information, many of the supposedly classified documents obtained by Aquino contains highly derogatory information about the Philippines particularly the Arroyo presidency.

The group also condemned National Bureau of Investigation Reynaldo Wycoco and Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales for making baseless and malicious speculations and insinuations on Aquino’s case and for shamelessly volunteering their services to a foreign country to pin down their fellow Filipino.

The Be Not Afraid Movement also lambasted Representatives Exequiel Javier of Antique, Eduardo Veloso of Leyte, Douglas Cagas of Davao del Sur and Edwin Uy of Isabela who are among the traditional attack dogs of Mrs. Arroyo for indicting Aquino for espionage way ahead of the United States government and for making it appear that the entire opposition is spying on the United States.

Ironically, the group said, these same government officials and congressmen cannot make the same rash statement on the case of Guen Garlejo Aguilar who is being accused in the grisly slaying of a fellow Filipina, Jane Parangan La Puebla in Singapore.

“To earn respect from the family of sovereign nations, the Philippine government should immediately lodge a diplomatic protest against the United States government for espionage and for not immediately informing the Philippine Consulate of the arrest of a Filipino citizen,” Pedrosa said.

The Be Not Afraid (BNA) Movement is a movement fighting for truth and stability of the country.

National Chairman
14 September 2005

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