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Archive for April 22nd, 2008

Esperon vows ‘swift action’ on ‘mistah’ accused of graft

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:15:00 04/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. vowed swift action on the graft case filed against a two-star general, even if the accused officer is his “mistah” or classmate at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

On Monday, the Philippine Army announced that a pretrial investigation found sufficient evidence to try Major General Jose Barbieto and Staff Sergeant Roseller Echipare before a court martial for allegedly extorting from Army recruits.

“I’ll let the staff do their work and I’ll just act on it, of course, as soon as possible,” Esperon told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

The recommendation of the Army Judge Advocate awaits the approval of Esperon, who as chief of staff can convene a court martial to try the two officers for alleged violation of Articles of War 55 (officer making unlawful enlistment) and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline).

Barbieto, who, like Esperon, belongs to the PMA’s 1974 “Marangal” class, faces and additional charge for violation of Article of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman), which is applicable only to officers.

Asked if his being classmates with Barbieto would affect his actions on the case, Esperon said: “Hindi mistah mistah ‘yan [Our being mistahs has nothing to do with this]. You just remember that General Miranda is my classmate. It has nothing to do with being classmates.”

Esperon was referring to another classmate, former Marine commandant Major General Renato Miranda, whom he approved for trial before a court martial, along with 27 other Marine and Army Scout Ranger officers for allegedly plotting to stage a coup in February 2006.

Barbieto will be the second two-star general to face a court martial for alleged corruption after retired major general Carlos Garcia, who was convicted of violating Articles of War 96 and 97 in December 2005.

Garcia was found guilty of amassing millions of pesos in ill-gotten wealth during his stint as AFP comptroller. He is also facing a P300-million plunder case before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-04-22T07:56:55+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Tue, 22 Apr 2008 07:56:55 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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More DNA samples sought as tests on ‘Dulmatin’ inconclusive

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:07:00 04/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities will gather more DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) samples from relatives of an alleged Indonesian terrorist for a fresh round of tests after initial tests on remains believed to be those of Dulmatin turned out “inconclusive,” the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Tuesday.

General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. acknowledged to reporters that initial testing by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) failed to prove that the remains exhumed in the southern province of Tawi-Tawi province February 18 were those of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) explosives expert Dulmatin.

“The test was inconclusive. It’s not yet finished,” he said, adding US officials had informed him of this last week.

However, even before Esperon’s admission, wire reports quoted Indonesian law enforcement officials as saying the remains were not Dulmatin’s.

Dulmatin, who with another JI bomb expert, Umar Patek, has long been reported as having taken refuge with the Abu Sayyaf group, carries a $10-million US bounty on his head.

The two are accused of masterminding the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people. The Abu Sayyaf, on the other hand, has been blamed for the bombing and sinking of the SuperFerry 14 in Manila Bay in 2004, which also killed some 200 people. Both incidents have been tagged the worst terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia.

“We will get samples from relatives as close [to Dulmatin] as possible,” Esperon said.

Esperon refused to identify whose DNA samples were used for the first test, saying the matter was “technical.”

Tipsters led authorities to the gravesite in Balimbing village, Panglima Sugala town, where Marines and alleged Abu Sayyaf and JI militants clashed in late January.

Dulmatin was believed to have been fatally wounded in that clash.

Prior to this, government forces also discovered Dulmatin’s wife and children. They have since been deported back to Indonesia.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-04-22T07:27:29+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Tue, 22 Apr 2008 07:27:29 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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