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Esperon thanks Arroyo for mutineers’ pardon

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:54:00 05/12/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Former Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. thanked President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for approving his recommendation to pardon nine military junior officers convicted on coup d’etat charges for their participation in a short-lived uprising in July 2003.

Arroyo announced her approval of the pardon shortly after Esperon relinquished his post to Lieutenant General Alexander Yano in ceremonies at Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.

“I appreciate that because at least one chapter is closed while I was about to retire, and so that gives us an idea of the thrust of government for unity and reconciliation,” Esperon told reporters after the ceremony.

Esperon hinted at the approval of the pardon in his valedictory address, before Arroyo’s speech.

“Thank you for your compassion for our soldiers and their families, including the repentant adventurists,” he said.

The nine junior officers, all from the Army, were sentenced to between 12 to 40 years in prison by Judge Oscar Pimentel of the Makati regional trial court branch 148, after they pleaded guilty to the coup d’etat charge.

Led by Captains Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrecampo, the nine represent the faction of the mutinous Magdalo group that has apologized to Arroyo and reaffirmed allegiance to government.

The faction that remains defiant is led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy lieutenant, and includes fugitive Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon.

In a separate interview, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. rejected observations that pardoning the nine Magdalo officers would send the wrong signal to the troops.

“As we said before, the reason [for the pardon] is, number one, they have really repented and, number two, they had an opportunity to escape last year, when Senator Trillanes invited them to go with him [but they did not],” Teodoro said.

He was referring to the occupation of the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City on November 29, 2007, led by Trillanes, and Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim, who is facing court martial over an alleged February 2006 coup plot.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2008-05-12T13:07:28+00:00UTC05bUTCMon, 12 May 2008 13:07:28 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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