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NEWS UPDATES 23 July  2010

Aquino nixes sending troops

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Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Friday overturned a government order to send troops onto the streets of Manila to deal with a water crisis, saying this was an "overreaction."

Aquino told AFP reporters he saw no need for soldiers to provide security amid rising tensions due to the water shortage, adding he had not been informed of the plan and that the cabinet member had spoken out of turn.

"There's no contemplation of (using) troops. Certain members of the present government have overreacted or were preparing for the worse," a visibly irritated Aquino said.

"I was not informed of this (proposal) and I talked to the parties concerned on whose decision this was and I reminded them they should consult with me before doing (this)."

On Thursday, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said that troops would be needed to protect trucks delivering water to areas of Manila suffering from a water shortage because crowds lining up for water were getting agitated.

Delivering his briefing from the presidential palace and alongside the presidential spokesman, Singson said there was the potential for riots.

But Aquino said there were only isolated incidents of possible trouble and that local officials had later withdrawn calls for more security.

Aquino stressed that no troops had been deployed, and that police would handle any further security issues.

A drought in the first half of this year brought water levels in Manila's main dam to critical levels, affecting the delivery of water to about three million people or a quarter of the capital's population, authorities said.

Aquino said trucks were delivering adequate supplies to affected communities and that recent rains were raising the dam's water levels.

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