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Archive for April 9th, 2008

Pardon for 9 officers ‘in realm of possibilities’–Esperon

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:15:00 04/09/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A presidential pardon for nine rebel junior officers who have been meted lengthy jail terms over a shortlived uprising in 2003 is in the “realm of possibilities,” Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Wednesday.

“A presidential pardon is in the realm of possibilities,” Esperon told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Even after the officers reversed their not guilty pleas to guilty, Judge Oscar Pimentel of Branch 148 of the Makati regional trial court still sentenced Captains Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrecampo to life imprisonment and seven others to up to 12 years in jail.

The nine Army men are part of the faction of the self-styled Magdalo group that have apologized for the July 27, 2003 uprising in the Makati financial district and reaffirmed allegiance to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Asked if the officers deserved to be pardoned, Esperon said: “I will not even comment on that because that will infringe on the President’s prerogative.”

“But indeed, there are mitigating circumstances, they went to barracks peacefully, they have become staunch advocates against military adventurism, they have behaved well while in confinement, they have shown remorse,” he said.

Esperon cited the case of 53 other Magdalo junior officers, who were freed from detention in December after Arroyo granted them executive clemency and commuted their sentences by a month.

The 53 officers were charged before a court martial, but not before the Makati RTC, where only the alleged leaders of the uprising were charged with coup d’etat. The 53 struck a plea bargain with military prosecutors.

The nine junior officers who were sentenced to imprisonment by the Makati court were among 12 who reversed their not guilty pleas before a court martial on alleged violation of Article of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman).

Esperon said the resolution of their civilian case could expedite the President’s action on the verdict of the court martial on the 12 officers.

Violation of AW 96 is punishable only with dishonorable dismissal from the service.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-04-09T09:23:37+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Wed, 09 Apr 2008 09:23:37 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Alleged coup plotter returned to Army camp in Rizal

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:08:00 04/09/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The highest-ranked officer facing court martial over the failed February 2006 coup was transferred back to an Army camp in Rizal province from military general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday.

Major General Renato Miranda’s transfer is an attempt by the military leadership to throw the accused officers off balance, said the officer’s lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles in an interview.

Miranda was escorted out of his detention cell at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) compound between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., Angeles said.

The 27 co-accused of Miranda will be transferred to Camp Capinpin in Tanay town in the coming days, she said.

Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin was supposed to be transferred with Miranda but was allowed to stay in Manila where he was seeking treatment for a heart condition, Angeles said.

The spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines was unavailable for comment.

In a text message, Miranda’s wife, Delia, said her husband arrived at Camp Capinpin at around 11 a.m. She said her husband was doing “okay” and was returned to his old cell.

“We were not given a reason for the transfer. This is unreasonable. They even refurbished their detention cells [at ISAFP] and started constructing quarters for their guards,” Angeles said.

“Although there is a psychological value [to the transfer], they are kept unbalanced. It’s like they are standing on shifting sand,” she said.

In February, the military moved Miranda’s group to the ISAFP from Camp Capinpin to “facilitate” their court martial for mutiny and several other violations of the Articles of War, which has dragged for two years.

Last week, Miranda was the first of the 28 accused to be arraigned for mutiny, wherein he entered a special plea, seeking a review of the charges against him and his co-accused. Military prosecutors agreed to the special plea.

Miranda allegedly knew of a plot by Querubin and Brigadier General Danilo Lim, the former chief of the First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR) to lead soldiers in a withdrawal of support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in February 2006.

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Wed+00:002008-04-09T04:44:02+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Wed, 09 Apr 2008 04:44:02 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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