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General, sergeant to face court martial on graft raps

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:49:00 04/21/2008

MANILA, Philippines – A general and his subordinate who allegedly extorted money from applicant soldiers will be tried before a court martial, the spokesman of the Philippine Army said Monday.

A pre-trial investigation by the Army Judge Advocate concluded there is enough evidence to charge Major General Jose Barbieto and Staff Sergeant Roseller Echipare, said Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr.

Barbieto will be charged with violation of Articles of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman), 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline), and 55 (officer making unlawful enlistment), making him the second two-star general to face court martial for alleged corruption after Major General Carlos Garcia, who was convicted for violation of Articles of War 96 and 97 in 2005.

Garcia was found guilty of amassing millions of pesos in ill-gotten wealth during his stint as military comptroller. He is also facing plunder and perjury charges before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court.

Echipare, on the other hand, will be charged for violation of Articles of War 97 and 55, but not Article of War 96, a charge applicable only to military officers, Torres said.

Barbieto and Echipare allegedly extorted from applicant soldiers, when the general was commander of the 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro City.

“These illegal actions were carried out allegedly with utter disregard to the existing Army policies and regulations governing recruitment and the reinstatement of soldiers in exchange for financial gains,” Torres said.

“The Philippine Army is bent on implementing reforms in the organization and General Yano assured that this case will be pursued to its final resolution in accordance with due process,” he added.

Barbieto went on leave in late February to give way to the investigation of the allegations. He was relieved from his post the following month after he was suspended by the Ombudsman.

He is a classmate of outgoing Armed Forces chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) 1974 “Marangal” class.

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2008-04-21T08:09:21+00:00UTC04bUTCMon, 21 Apr 2008 08:09:21 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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