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Archive for February 2007

Accused ‘coup plotter’ Querubin in hospital

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For continuation of malaria treatment

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 03:21pm (Mla time) 02/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin, one of 28 officers facing mutiny charges for allegedly plotting a coup in February last year, was transferred to an Army hospital in Fort Bonifacio Wednesday to continue treatment for malaria, a military spokesman said.

The move came barely a day after Querubin and seven other Marine officers linked to the alleged coup plot were transferred to Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province to share a maximum security detention facility with their co-accused from the Army Scout Rangers.

“The chief of staff has approved the transfer of Colonel Querubin to the Fort Bonifacio General Hospital. He will undergo some follow-up treatment,” Armed Forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“He [Querubin] will stay there until his treatment is finished,” Bacarro added.

In a text message, Querubin’s wife Maria Flor said her husband was first brought to a Makati City hospital for alternative treatment using “light and sound,” after which, he will be transferred to the Army hospital.

“He will be confined at the Philippine Army hospital until his alternative treatment is done,” Ms. Querubin said.

Asked why a Marine like Querubin was transferred to an Army hospital when there is also a Navy hospital inside Fort Bonifacio, Bacarro said: “Let us not put an angle on a Navy officer being confined [at an Army facility].”

In early February, Querubin was briefly confined at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center in Quezon City for treatment of the same disease.

Bacarro also rejected complaints by the Marine officers’ relatives that their new detention in Camp Capinpin was worse than the city jails in Manila.

“That is not true…We can assure you that we are treating them like our own,” Bacarro said.

Bacarro said the International Committee of the Red Cross has inspected and approved of the Camp Capinpin detention facility.

He said it was Querubin’s request to be detained with 18 other co-accused on Tuesday evening after he refused to be kept in his own cell.

Bacarro said two other alleged leaders of the February uprising, ex-Marine commandant Major General Renato Miranda and ex-Scout Rangers chief Brigadier General Danilo Lim are detained together in a separate cell.

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2007-02-28T08:26:09+00:00UTC02bUTCWed, 28 Feb 2007 08:26:09 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am02

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Accused ‘mutineer’ says sorry to AFP chief

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Seeks permission to campaign

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 12:28pm (Mla time) 02/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines — An Army officer being tried for mutiny before a court martial apologized to Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and, at the same time, sought permission to campaign for the lone congressional seat of his native Kalinga province.

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“I am truly sorry if I have caused you disappointments and I sincerely thank you for your personal concern, of which I have been aware,” Scout Ranger Captain Dante Langkit said in a letter delivered to Esperon’s office in Camp Aguinaldo by his twin brother Danzel on Wednesday.

“I intend to run for congressman in the lone district of my province, Kalinga. In this regard, may I respectfully ask for your permission that I be allowed to campaign in my province during the election period,” Langkit added.

Langkit is the first of the 28 Marine and Scout Ranger officers being tried for their alleged involvement in a coup they were supposed to stage in February last year. Two weeks before his apology, Langkit was removed from solitary confinement in Fort Bonifacio.

He is also the third alleged coup plotter to join the electoral race in May after senatorial candidates Gregorio Honasan and Navy Lieutenant Senior Grade Antonio Trillanes IV, both linked to a short-lived military mutiny in July 2003.

Asked why his brother was apologizing, Danzel said: “That is just an emphatic [show of] respect to the leadership of General Esperon…As I see it, a father is reluctant to release a son, especially in the culture of the men in uniform.”

Asked if his twin would be testifying against the alleged leaders of the purported coup, Danzel replied: “I cannot have a comment on that…Wala naman siyang sinasabing ganoon [He has not said anything about that].”

Langkit was once Esperon’s former aide de camp. He is also a “mistah” or classmate of Trillanes and several other junior officers from the Philippine Military Academy’s class of 1995 who were linked to the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

In his letter to Esperon, Captain Langkit said he would not grant interviews unless these were on “issues locally affecting my province.”

Danzel said his brother would run as an independent on a platform of “peace and order and good governance.”

“He feels that this is his best option,” Danzel said, adding that his brother felt that he had a “slim chance” of pushing for his advocacies while in the service.

Active-duty soldiers are considered resigned once they file their certificates of candidacy.

Langkit was arrested in Quezon City in April 2006. At that time, he was allegedly recruiting soldiers for a planned assault on Fort Bonifacio under an operation plan dubbed “Gemstone.”

He had been on AWOL (absent without official leave) since January of that year.

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2007-02-28T06:41:17+00:00UTC02bUTCWed, 28 Feb 2007 06:41:17 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am02

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9 Marine ‘plotters’ ordered transferred to Tanay camp

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Join 19 accused Scout Rangers

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 10:13pm (Mla time) 02/27/2007

TANAY, Rizal — (UPDATE) All 28 officers on trial for mutiny for their alleged participation in the failed February 2006 power grab began sharing a single detention facility in Camp Capinpin beginning Tuesday, on orders of Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

Eight of the nine accused Marines, including ex-corps commandant Major General Renato Miranda and Colonel Ariel Querubin, and Army Scout Ranger Captain Dante Langkit were whisked off to their new detention immediately after their court martial hearing.

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Miranda and two other Marines were previously detained at a staff house in Fort Bonifacio, Querubin and five others at Fort San Felipe in Cavite City, and Langkit, as the Custodial Management Unit also in Fort Bonifacio.

They joined 18 Army officers, including ex-Scout Rangers chief Brigadier General Danilo Lim in Camp Capinpin, where the mutiny hearings are held, said military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro.

The ninth Marine officer, Lieutenant Colonel Januario Caringal, remains confined at the Manila Naval Hospital, but will be shipped to Camp Capinpin as soon as he gets well, said military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro.

“[The transfer is meant] to consolidate the accused, to make it easier to transfer them for their hearings,” Bacarro told reporters.

“Ayaw namin [We don’t like this],” Querubin said, when asked to comment on his transfer, as he was about to leave the courtroom.

In a separate interview during a break from the hearing, Miranda said he was told to pack his belongings on Monday evening.

While they were not asked to pack up, Querubin and four others who were detained at Fort San Felipe in Cavite City, knew of plans to transfer their detention, his wife, Maria Flor, told reporters.

“They were not even allowed to get their things in Cavite,” Ms. Querubin said in a text message shortly after the transfer.

Asked if her husband would question the transfer, she said: “I will, not the Marine[s]. They will never complain. It is us, the family.”

Langkit’s twin, Dancel, told reporters his brother had been detained at the CMU for two weeks following his removal from the Intelligence Security Group (ISG), where he was allegedly mistreated.

“He’s doing better now. He has more privileges,” Dancel said, who earlier described his twin’s ISG cell as a “pigpen.”

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-02-27T16:10:53+00:00UTC02bUTCTue, 27 Feb 2007 16:10:53 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm02

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‘Coup plotters’ win ‘petty’ victory in court

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 09:49pm (Mla time) 02/27/2007

TANAY, Rizal — A military court on Tuesday acceded to demands of 28 Army Scout Ranger and Marine officers facing mutiny charges that they be furnished copies of the pre-trial investigation (PTI) report, which was the basis used by the Armed Forces chief of staff to order them tried.

“This court, in the interest of justice, grants the petition of the accused to be furnished copies of the PTI report,” said court president Lieutenant General Alexander Yano, during a hearing in Camp Capinpin here.

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The accused and their families applauded and cheered Yano’s decision.

The accused officers had refused to be arraigned until they are furnished copies of the PTI report, which was submitted to Armed Forces chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. in October.

“The [PTI] has not finished until we get a copy of the report. It is premature for us to proceed,” defense counsel Vicente Verdadero told the court.

Verdadero represents Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim, former commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, who with Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin, is accused of planning to lead a mass withdrawal of support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on February 24, 2006.

Lawyer Francisco Chavez, who represents former Marines commandant Major General Renato Miranda, the highest-ranked accused, described the court’s ruling as a “petty” victory for the 19 Scout Ranger and nine Marine officers, who were rounded up in a single detention cell in this Army camp east of Manila after the proceedings on Tuesday.

“Finally, they [court] capitulated. We do not crow over this petty development,” Chavez told reporters.

Stressing his client’s right to a copy of the PTI report during the hearing, Chavez told the court: “We are not asking favors from your General Esperon.”

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Yano deferred the arraignment, gave the accused 15 days upon receipt of the PTI report to submit their written response, and set the next hearing date on March 16.

According to an unsigned copy of the PTI report, which was leaked to media, lead prosecutor Colonel Al Perreras recommended the dropping of mutiny charges against the 38 officers who were investigated and for only 18 to be tried on lesser charges.

But Esperon ordered 30 officers tried by court martial for mutiny, although he absolved two Marine officers before the first hearing on December 14.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-02-27T16:08:03+00:00UTC02bUTCTue, 27 Feb 2007 16:08:03 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm02

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US offers help in probe on killings

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 08:31pm (Mla time) 02/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The United States has offered to help Philippine security forces in investigating the “serious problem” of extra-judicial killings in the country that independent investigations have blamed on the military.

“We’ll certainly be delighted to do more. The sovereign nation of the Philippines needs to let us know how we can help,” US Ambassador Kristie Kenney said in an interview with reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“If we can share ideas and thoughts on how to investigate, we’re delighted to do so,” Kenney said, adding that a police task force investigating the killings had briefed her and other US Embassy officials.

Kenney described the killings as a “serious problem” even as she cited the Philippine government’s “serious action plan” that includes setting up “human rights desks” in the military.

“The key now is to follow up, to investigate, to fortify the
institutions that investigate, to hold people responsible, therefore the innocent, declare them innocent,” the envoy said.

Kenney also called on government to provide adequate protection for witnesses to the killings to speed up the criminal investigations.

She declined comment on findings of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston that linked the military to the over 800 extra-judicial killings since 2001. The Palace-formed Melo Commission came up with similar findings.

The Armed Forces leadership has reiterated its innocence over the killings, and blamed it on a supposed purge within the communist movement.

Military forces have been battling for decades against communist insurgents who effectively control parts of this vast island nation, and say rights groups ignore the large numbers of people killed by the guerrillas.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Sunday the government would follow the recommendations of the Melo Commission.

The commission, headed by retired Supreme Court justice Jose Melo, recommended the introduction of a witness protection program and said a special court should be established to try those involved.

Alston said last Wednesday the military were in “almost total denial” about the need to take action on the murders, which have tarnished Arroyo’s administration and drawn international criticism.

With Agence France-Presse

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-02-27T16:04:25+00:00UTC02bUTCTue, 27 Feb 2007 16:04:25 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm02

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Palace to nursing board passers: Retake the exams

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‘If you want to go to the US’

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 05:46pm (Mla time) 02/26/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Nursing graduates who passed the leakage-tainted June 2006 board exams should retake the test, if they are bent on working in the United States, a Malacañang official has advised.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol said that since the Commission of Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) is a private organization, it could not be prodded to reconsider its decision not to grant VisaScreen applications for the 2006 board passers.

“Retake the exam if you want to get to the States,” Apostol told reporters in Malacañang on Monday.

Medical workers seeking employment in the US need VisaScreen certificates from the CGFNS before their applications for a working visa could be processed.

Despite a Court of Appeals decision ordering only a partial retake of the board exams, the CGFNS has refused to grant VisaScreen certificates to the 17,000 passers of the June 2006 licensure examinations unless they retake tests 3 and 5, which were reportedly leaked.

“That is a rule in the United States. If you want to go to the States, you follow their rules, if you do not want, never mind,” Apostol said.

The controversial June 2006 nursing licensure exams spawned Senate inquiries and court cases after it was exposed that some review centers got test leaks.

At least 19 people — two nursing board examiners and 17 officers of test review centers — are facing criminal charges in connection with the leaks.

The Philippines is the largest source of foreign-registered nurses in US hospitals and healthcare facilities.

With The Associated Press

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2007-02-26T10:41:56+00:00UTC02bUTCMon, 26 Feb 2007 10:41:56 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am02

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Palparan ‘qualified’ to seek election, says Palace

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 05:24pm (Mla time) 02/26/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Retired Army major general Jovito Palparan, the man leftist activists have tagged a “butcher,” is “qualified” to seek an elective post in May, a Palace official said Monday.

“He is qualified. He can run. There are no prohibitions,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol told reporters in Malacañang.

Reacting to party-list groups’ opposition to Palparan’s political plans, Apostol said: “How can they stop that? In the same way, Palparan cannot stop the party-list [groups] from running. That is his right to run.”

Palparan had said that he was mulling running for a congressional seat in his native Misamis Oriental province.

Investigations by the Palace-formed Melo Commission and United Nations special rapporteur Philip Alston have linked Palparan and “some groups” in the military to the over 800 extrajudicial killings in the country since 2001.

Palparan dismissed the reports as “totally flawed” and a “re-echo of communist propaganda.”

The controversial general, who retired last September 11, also said he prefers “scaring” to killing activists.

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MonUTC2007-02-26T10:41:04+00:00UTC02bUTCMon, 26 Feb 2007 10:41:04 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am02

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