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Esperon: ‘Accused Army officer to make good public servant’

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 02:29pm (Mla time) 03/01/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. believes accused coup plotter Captain Dante Langkit, who plans to run for Congress in the May elections, will make a good public servant.

At the same time, Esperon said he has accepted Langkit’s apology for causing him “disappointments,” but stressed this will not affect court martial proceedings against the Scout Ranger officer who is facing mutiny charges with several other officers for an alleged coup attempt in February last year.

“Oh yes, he is good. He has a big heart for public service. That’s a soldier,” Esperon said, when asked if Langkit would make a good public servant.

“But I must repeat, I am not endorsing anybody here. I will just be acting on his letter…If he is qualified, why not? I can even wish him luck,” Esperon said.

Aside from apologizing to Esperon, Langkit also sought permission to leave detention to campaign in his native Kalinga province, where he will seek the lone congressional seat.

However, Esperon said Langkit might not be allowed to campaign in the field since his case is still pending before the special general court martial.

“Once the court martial has taken cognizance of his case, he may not be allowed to campaign…he is restricted. I can restrict him,” he said.

Esperon said he was “very humbled” by the apology of Langkit, his former operations officer when he was commanding general of the elite Army Special Operations Command.

“I…worked with him for just almost a year and he finds me to be so fatherly. Isn’t that something to be proud of? I’ll take it as a complement,” he said.

Asked if he considered Langkit a prodigal son, Esperon laughed before answering in a serious tone: “Mabait naman yang si Dante [Dante is really a good man]. He is a good officer, [a] very good combat officer.”

Esperon also said despite the apology Langkit has not offered to cooperate in the investigation of the alleged coup, although he would be “welcome” to do so.

He also explained why Langkit was not transferred from Fort Bonifacio to Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province — where all the other accused officers are now being detained — because his co-accused might have been angered by the captain’s apology.

“It’s just that some people with the group might be, might have misinterpreted him, so we want to avoid any physical contacts for the meantime…The letter might be taken against him by some people who do not see the aspect of our personal relations,” Esperon said.

Langkit is the first of the 28 officers on trial for the alleged coup plot to apologize to Esperon. Two weeks before his apology, Langkit was removed from solitary confinement in Fort Bonifacio.

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

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 AWOL (absent without official leave) since January of that year.

Click here to access article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002007-03-01T06:50:11+00:00+00:0003b+00:00Thu, 01 Mar 2007 06:50:11 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am03

Posted in Uncategorized

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