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3 officers in 2003 mutiny change plea; 2 others plea bargain

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:37:00 04/04/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Three Army junior officers on trial for a short-lived mutiny in July 2003 have reversed their pleas of not guilty to guilty while two others have entered into a plea bargain.

In their hearing Friday, First Lieutenants Lawrence San Juan, Sonny Sarmiento, and Nathaniel Rabonza approached the court panel individually and entered a guilty plea for violation of Article of War 96 or conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, which is punishable with dishonorable discharge from the service.

Meanwhile, Second Lieutenants Jason Panaligan and Christopher Orongan, through their lawyer Edgardo Abaya, entered into a plea bargain by pleading guilty to violation of Article of War 97 or conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline, a lesser offense.


San Juan, Sarmiento, and Rabonza are among the alleged leaders of the mutinous Magdalo group that were charged with violating AW 96 before a military court and were also charged with coup d’etat before a civilian court.

In 2007, twelve of their co-accused and fellow leaders were ordered discharged from the service after reversing their not guilty plea for violation of AW 96.

Panaligan and Orongan are part of the bigger group that have not been charged before a civilian court but are facing multiple charges before a military court.

Fifty-three who were accused with Panaligan and Orongan had also entered into a plea bargain, which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as commander-in-chief, had approved. They were formally discharged from the service later this year.

In January 2006, San Juan, Rabonza, and Sarmiento, together with First Lieutenant Francisco Bumidang, escaped from their Fort Bonifacio detention cells. They were recaptured later that same year.

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-04-04T07:37:40+00:00UTC04bUTCFri, 04 Apr 2008 07:37:40 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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