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9 pardoned Magdalo officers freed

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:30:00 05/16/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Nine Army junior officers who were pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after they were convicted on coup d’etat charges were released from detention on Friday, a spokesman for the Philippine Army said.

The nine officers were “in high spirits” as they left their detention cell at the Custodial Management Unit (CMU) compound in Fort Bonifacio at 12:10 p.m., said Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner.

The officers, led by Captains Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrecampo, are among the leaders of the Magdalo group of junior officers and enlisted men that seized the Oakwood luxury apartments in Makati City on July 27, 2003 to protest alleged corruption in government.

“The basis for the release is General Orders number 10 signed by the President,” Brawner told reporters, referring to the pardon order.

“As of this morning, they were in high spirits,” Brawner said, adding the former detainees were met by their families.

The conditional pardon granted to the nine perpetually disqualifies them from rejoining the military service and enjoins them from “any crime or felony or participate in a coup d’etat or other forms of military adventurism,” Brawner said.

Brawner said the order formally discharging the nine from the service would be issued immediately.

Aside from Gambala and Maestrecampo, also freed were Captains Alvin Ebreo, Albert Baloloy, John Andres, Laurence Luis Somera, and John Andres, First Lieutenants Cleo Donga-as and Florentino Somera, and Second Lieutenant Kristopher Bryan Yasay.

Army Chief Lieutenant General Victor Ibrado said he was planning to meet with the nine officers after their release.

“I will talk to them on a personal level, if I can help them in any way,” said Ibrado, who was in Cebu City on Friday, where he turned over command of the Armed Forces Central Command to Lieutenant General Pedro Ike Insierto.

Ibrado said the nine were his cadets at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) when he served in the academy’s warfare department.

Former Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who recommended the pardon of officers, said he was “very happy” with their release.

“I thank the President for her kind understanding, I must say [she is] motherly because she is the mother of the Armed Forces,” he said.

“If I would have my way, I will still find my way to help them start a new life,” he added. “I wish them good luck and I know they can be productive members of society.”

Meanwhile, the lawyer of fugitive Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon, said her client wished the nine pardoned officers well in their future plans.

Aside from the Oakwood mutiny, Faeldon is also wanted for the takeover in November last year of the Manila Peninsula Hotel by a group of Magdalo members led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

He escaped before government forces assaulted and retook the hotel.

“We wish them well, so they can continue on with their lives. Captain Faeldon has never held any rancor for the nine,” lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles.

Angeles also reiterated that Faeldon would only seek pardon from the President “when hell freezes over.”

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-05-16T14:04:05+00:00UTC05bUTCFri, 16 May 2008 14:04:05 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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