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Marine ‘plotters’ would want to hunt comrades’ killers

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 06:37pm (Mla time) 07/18/2007

CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal — (UPDATE 2) If they were not in detention, the nine Marines facing court martial for an alleged February 2006 coup plot would be helping hunt down the killers of their 14 comrades in Basilan province last week.

To show their sympathy for the 14 fallen Marines, 14 of whom were beheaded, seven of the nine accused officers turned up at their court martial hearing here on Wednesday with their heads shaved bald.

segumalian-parcon.jpg

A force believed to be combined fighters of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf and local bandits were allegedly behind the July 10 ambush in Tipo-Tipo town.

The MILF owned up to engaging the Marines, who it said entered rebel territory without coordination in violation of a ceasefire, but denied beheading the slain soldiers.

“We are full of sorrow because we cannot do anything to help. We would like to help but because of our predicament, we cannot do so,” said ex-Marine Corps commandant Major General Renato, the highest ranked of the nine Marines and 19 Army Scout Rangers facing mutiny charges.

“In biblical times, when you shave your head, you are in mourning,” Lieutenant Colonel Custodio Parcon told reporters.

Colonel Ariel Querubin, who commanded the 14 Marines when he was chief of the 1st Marine Brigade, said he was “saddened” by their death.

“They [14 Marines] were the ones who cried with him,” Querubin’s wife, Maria Flor, told reporters, referring to her husband’s tearful farewell speech to his men, following his relief for allegedly leading the February 26 standoff in Fort Bonifacio.

“He wrote each of them [families of the casualties] a personal letter expressing his condolences,” said Ms. Querubin who was at the trial.

Lieutenant Colonel Achilles Segumalian, who was once assigned in Basilan, said the military should wage war against his comrades’ killers.

“Giyera na talaga [This means war]. All out war,” Segumalian told reporters.

Segumalian said it angered him that the MILF was suspected of beheading the Marines when a few years back, the Marines even gave blood to an MILF fighter who was wounded in battle.

He said the MILF should not have fired at the Marines, even if they had encroached on their territory in Ginanta village as they alleged, without prior coordination.

Aside from Querubin, Parcon, and Segumalian, Colonels Januario Caringal, Armand Bañez, and Orlando de Leon, and Major Francisco Fernandez also went to court with shaved heads.

Miranda had been sporting the bald look even before the 14 Marines were beheaded, while the only female accused, First Lieutenant Belinda Ferrer, came with her hair tied in a ponytail.

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Querubin allegedly plotted to overthrow President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with ex-Scout Rangers chief Brigadier General Danilo Lim through a mass withdrawal of support on February 24, 2006.

Miranda allegedly knew of the plot. His sudden relief prompted Querubin to lead a standoff at their Fort Bonifacio headquarters two days later, on February 26.

A videotape, which was supposed to have been aired had the officers succeeded in toppling Arroyo showed Lim assailing the legitimacy of the Arroyo government, tainted by allegations of vote-rigging in 2004.

In his hand-written note, Miranda vaguely touched on the issues surrounding the failed coup.

“We do not say that we are the solution but we would like to be part of the solution. Even before, we were part of the solution. We were never part of the problem,” he said.

“But when we offered recommended solutions, they perceived us to be the problem. And what have they done to us? They placed us behind bars,” he said.

Originally posted at 10:15 am

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2007-07-18T11:17:45+00:00UTC07bUTCWed, 18 Jul 2007 11:17:45 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

Posted in Uncategorized

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