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27 officers charged for February 2006 ‘coup plot’ arraigned

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:40:00 05/06/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) All 28 military officers facing mutiny charges for allegedly plotting a February 2006 coup attempt were arraigned on Tuesday, over a year after court martial proceedings against them started.

The highest-ranked accused, former Marines commandant Major General Renato Miranda, was arraigned during an earlier hearing.

On Tuesday, the 27 remaining officer were arraigned but, instead of entering a guilty or not guilty plea, the officers entered special pleas and asked the court for up to 20 days to file a demurrer to the charges, which they claim have no basis.

Miranda’s special plea to drop the charges against him had been denied.

The officers are charged with violation of Article of War 67 or “attempting to create or begin, excite, cause, or join a mutiny” for allegedly planning a withdrawal of support from their commander-in-chief, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The Army Scout Rangers arraigned were former regiment commander, Brigadier General Danilo Lim, Lieutenant Colonels Edmundo Malabanjot, and Nestor Flordeliza; Majors Jason Aquino, and Jose Leomar Doctolero; Captains Isagani Criste, Montano Almodovar, James Sababan, Ruben Guinolbay, Frederick Sales, Joey Fontiveros, William Upano, Dante Langkit and Allan Aurino; First Lieutenants Ervin Divinagracia, Jacon Cordero, Homer Estolas, and Sandro Sereno; and Second Lieutenant Ritchiemel Caballes.

The arraigned Marines were Colonels Ariel Querubin, Januario Caringal, and Orlando de Leon; Lieutenant Colonels Armando Bañez, Custodio Parcon, and Achilles Segumalian; Major Francisco Fernandez, the lone female accused, First Lieutenant Belinda Ferrer.

The court panel, headed by Major General Jogy Leo Fojas, deferred the accused officers’ arraignment on other charges, including violation of Article of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman).

This after the defense argued that the other charges had prescribed when the accused were not arraigned within the two-year “prescription period” from the commission of the offense.

The mutiny charge, which carries the maximum penalty of life imprisonment, does not prescribe, prosecution lawyers have said.

Before the charges were read to him, Guinolbay lamented to the court how he and his co-accused have been “unjustly jailed” for close to two years.

“I do not ask for mercy. I just want you to look at the case,” he said, adding, “We don’t deserve a second more in detention.”

Guinolbay said a pretrial investigation had recommended the dropping of the mutiny charge, but it was restored with a mere “stroke of the pen” of Colonel Pedro Herrera-Davila, the staff judge advocate of Armed Forces chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-05-06T13:07:41+00:00UTC05bUTCTue, 06 May 2008 13:07:41 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

Posted in Uncategorized

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