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Guilty plea by 9 mutineers a ‘breakthrough’–Army chief

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:48:00 04/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A “breakthrough” and a “step forward” were how the commanding general of the Philippine Army described the decision of nine junior officers linked to a failed uprising in July 2003 to change their plea on coup d’etat charges from innocent to guilty.

The move of the junior officers was a “product of their own volition,” to reunite themselves with their families after close to five years in military stockades, said Lieutenant General Alexander Yano.

The nine Army men who reversed their guilty plea included two alleged ringleaders — Captains Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrecampo.

“After five years, Gambala and the others accused of coup d’etat pleaded guilty, which is a step forward and a breakthrough in the case. We admire the courage of these men,” Yano said.

“What made them decide to plead guilty was definitely a product of their own volition. Personal reasons may be taken into consideration for they have their family and their children too,” he said.

Gambala, Maestrecampo and the seven others — Captains Albert Baloloy, Alvin Ebreo, and John Andres and First Lieutenants Cleo Donga-as, Florentino Somera, and Christopher Brian Yasay — are among twelve junior officers who reversed the guilty pleas before a court martial that had been trying them for violation of Article of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman) and were subsequently discharged from the service.

A total of 31 junior officers, including Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy lieutenant, are on trial for coup d’etat before branch 148 of the Makati regional trial court over the July 27, 2003 siege on the Oakwood luxury apartments.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-04-02T16:59:57+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Wed, 02 Apr 2008 16:59:57 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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