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Archive for June 10th, 2008

Military chief: No deal with 11 suspected mutineers

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 19:01:00 06/10/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Alexander Yano promised no concessions to eleven rebel junior officers, whom he met briefly, before they reversed their not guilty pleas at a military court, a military spokesman said.

“There was no deal, no concession. They also expressed their support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the leadership of General Yano, and help in whatever way they can,” AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said.

“There was no promise from the Chief of Staff. The Chief of Staff only pledged [that the proceedings] will take its due course, and that fair and just trial will be accorded [to the accused],” he said.

Torres said the rebel officers told Yano that they pleaded guilty to violation of Article of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman) to “unburden” him of at least one “problem.”

The eleven are: Captain Segundino Orfiano Jr., and First Lieutenants Billy Pascua and Francisco Ashley Acedillo from the Air Force; Lieutenants Senior Grade James Layug, Eugene Louie Gonzales, Andy Torato, and Manuel Cabochan, Lieutenant Junior Grade Arturo Pascua, and Ensign Arman Pontejos from the Navy; and Captain Gary Alejano and Second Lieutenant Jonnel Sangalang from the Marines.

The group does not include Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy lieutenant, and fugitive Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon.

Violation of Article of War 96 is punishable with dishonorable dismissal from the service and jail time. The court will decide on whether or not to accept their reversal of plea in the next hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-06-10T18:03:37+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Tue, 10 Jun 2008 18:03:37 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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Troops on Sulu alerted to help search for abducted TV crew

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:17:00 06/10/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces chief Lieutenant General Alexander Yano has placed troops in Sulu on standby to help police search for a missing television news crew reportedly kidnapped by the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, the military spokesman said Tuesday.

“There is no specific order to troops in the area, except, in the meantime, to just follow the developments, monitor closely, and should there be a need for the military to be involved in finding Ces Drilon, we are ready to provide such support,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr., chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office.

Torres said the Philippine National Police (PNP) is taking the lead in the search for the ABS-CBN news team.

On Sunday morning, reporter Drilon, her two crewmen, and a university professor who was serving as their guide, were snatched in Maimbung town, allegedly by the group of Abu Sayyaf commander Albader Parad.

“With what happened to Ces Drilon in Sulu, we can see the true colors of terrorism. They don’t respect the law and don’t care who you are,” Torres said.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-06-10T09:37:01+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Tue, 10 Jun 2008 09:37:01 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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Shots fired at US chopper on mercy mission; no one hurt

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:13:00 06/10/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A US helicopter was shot at while ferrying patients and doctors from a port in Cotabato City to a US Navy hospital ship on Monday, a regional military spokesman said.

There were no casualties.

There was no immediate assessment of the damage to the aircraft, which was able to land safely, Lieutenant Colonel Julieto Ando, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

The helicopter was airborne at the time of the attack around 3:30 p.m., Ando said, adding that the identity of the attackers have not been determined.

The USNS Mercy is docked one kilometer off the Polloc port in Cotabato City. Patients and doctors are ferried to the ship by boat and helicopter, Ando said.

The US Navy ship is on its second visit to the Philippines in as many years. The mission hopes to treat an estimated 15,000 patients and help with construction projects.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-06-10T08:22:18+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Tue, 10 Jun 2008 08:22:18 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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11 junior officers in 2003 mutiny reverse not guilty pleas

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 14:34:00 06/10/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) After a brief meeting with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Alexander Yano, 11 core leaders of a short-lived uprising in Makati City in July 2003 reversed their “not guilty” pleas to “guilty” before a court martial.

But unlike their estranged comrades who reversed their “not guilty” pleas earlier, the eleven did not reaffirm their support for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but pledged to support the military organization, defense and prosecution lawyers who were at the 10-minute meeting at Yano’s office said.

The 11 do not include Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy lieutenant, and fugitive Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon.

They are charged for violation of Article of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman), which is punishable with dishonorable discharge from the service and jail time.

The officers who pleaded guilty are Captain Segundino Orfiano Jr., and First Lieutenants Billy Pascua and Francisco Ashley Acedillo from the Air Force; Lieutenants Senior Grade James Layug, Eugene Louie Gonzales, Andy Torato, and Manuel Cabochan, Lieutenant Junior Grade Arturo Pascua, and Ensign Arman Pontejos from the Navy; and Captain Gary Alejano and Second Lieutenant Jonnel Sangalang from the Marines.

Should the court martial accept the reversal of their pleas, only six accused will remain to stand trial over the 2003 uprising: Trillanes, Faeldon, Army First Lieutenant Warren Lee Dagupon, and Marine Second Lieutenants Alquin Canson, Junnibert Tubo, and Edwin Duetao.

Dagupon is charged with violation of AW 96, like Trillanes and Faeldon. The core leaders were charged only for violation of AW 96 because they are on trial on coup d’etat charges before the Makati regional trial court.

Canson, Tubo, and Duetao are charged for violation of AW 96, 63 (disrespect to the President), 64 (disrespect towards superior officer), 67 (mutiny), ad 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline).

Except for Acedillo, all of the junior officers who reversed their pleas on Tuesday were also charged with rebellion for joining the occupation of the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City on November 29, 2007, on top of the coup d’etat charge in connection with the takeover of the former Oakwood luxury apartments in Makati on July 27, 2003.

“Yes sir, I am aware of the consequence,” Alejano told the court president, Air Force Brigadier General Nathaniel Legaspi, when asked if he was ready to face the consequences of reversing his plea.

“I am not subjected to any kind of intimidation and promises,” Orfiano told the court, when asked if he had struck a deal to reverse his plea.

“Even if there was an offer [for a deal], I will not accept,” Acedillo said, when asked the same question.

Defense counsel Edgardo Abaya asked the court to consider the reversal of plea and the surrender of the group at the height of the Oakwood siege as “mitigating circumstances” in case it sentences the group.

Legaspi said the reversal of plea would be decided in the next hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

The lead military prosecutor, Colonel Pedro Herrera-Davila confirmed to reporters that four of the eleven — Layug, Gonzales, Alejano, and Orpiano — met with Yano for 10 minutes, before the hearing started at around 1:30 p.m.

“They just want to deliver personally the message [that they are reversing their pleas],” Abaya said, when asked why the 11 sought an audience with Yano.

The group also told Yano that they were “wiling to cooperate with the Armed Forces as an institution,” Abaya said.

Abaya said there were no discussions on whether or not the group was reaffirming allegiance to Arroyo as their commander-in-chief.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002008-06-10T07:48:05+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Tue, 10 Jun 2008 07:48:05 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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