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Archive for June 11th, 2008

Trillanes, Faeldon not pleading guilty–lawyers

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:28:00 06/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and fugitive Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon will not plead guilty before a court martial trying them for their participation in a short-lived mutiny in Makati City in July 2003, their lawyer said.

Trillanes’ lawyer and chief of staff, Reynaldo Robles, said the senator is prepared to be the “last to abandon ship.”

On the other hand, Faeldon’s counsel, Trixie Cruz-Angeles, said her client will continue treading the “difficult path.”

On Tuesday, 11 members of the Magdalo group who belong to the Trillanes-led
faction that continues to defy President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, reversed their not guilty pleas to violation of Article of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman).

Robles said the charge against Trillanes was moot since he was deemed resigned from the service when he filed his certificate of candidacy for the May 2007 elections, pursuant to Section 68 of the Omnibus Election Code.

Violation of AW 96 is punishable with discharge from the service and jail time.

“If he [Trillanes] is already resigned, how can they discharge him?” Robles said in a phone interview.

Robles said Trillanes would file soon a motion to dismiss the AW 96 charge on three grounds — he was considered resigned when he ran for the Senate, he was not arraigned before the case prescribed in 2005, and “failure to prosecute” on the part of military lawyers.

Aside from the court martial proceedings, Trillanes’ group is also facing two cases before the Makati regional trial court — a coup d’etat charge over the takeover of the Oakwood luxury apartments in July 2003, and a rebellion charge over the occupation by his group of the Manila Peninsula Hotel in November 2007.

“Being the leader, he thinks he should be the last to abandon ship. He should be the last to leave detention,” Robles said.

Angeles said her client would not plead guilty since this would be an acknowledgement of Arroyo’s authority, even as her mandate remains under question.

“He cannot and will not recognize that power. He is willing to pay for his intransigence, as he has always been willing to take the consequences of his actions. He has taken the difficult path and will stay the course,” Angeles said of her client.

Should the court martial accept the guilty pleas and discharge the 11, six junior officers will remain to stand trial over the 2003 uprising: Trillanes, Faeldon, Army First Lieutenant Warren Lee Dagupon, and Marine Second Lieutenants Junnibert Tubo and Edwin Duetao.

But Robles said the Trillanes-led faction of the Magdalo remained intact even if not all of them reversed their pleas before a court martial.

“Their principles have not changed,” the lawyer said.

Another faction of the Magdalo, led by discharged Army captains Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrecampo, was the first to reverse their pleas before civilian and military courts, and reaffirm their support for Arroyo.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-06-11T09:15:16+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Wed, 11 Jun 2008 09:15:16 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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Yano forms team to probe complaints of detained ‘plotters’

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:43:00 06/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Lieutenant General Alexander Yano has formed an investigating body to look into claims by 28 officers facing court martial for an alleged February 2006 coup plot that their human rights had been abused, a military spokesman said.

The military’s Inspector General, Lieutenant General Ferdinand Bocobo, will lead the investigation, AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said.

On Wednesday, Bocobo met with the wives of the detainees, Maria Flor Querubin, wife of accused Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin. It was the wives who made public the alleged abuses their husbands were suffering in military custody.

Yano ordered the board to come up with a report “as soon as possible,” Torres told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“We consider this as a good step towards hearing both sides…From there, we will know what needs to be adjustment [or] if there is a need to make some adjustments regarding the custody of the detainees,” Torres said.

In a complaint letter sent to Bocobo’s office, the wives raised six alleged human rights violations, including barring the detainees from singing.

“Those detained in ISAFP [Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines] are even prohibited to sing. It seems that it is illegal for detainees to be happy,” the wives said.

Though most of the accused officers are detained at Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province, a small group is being held at the ISAFP compound in Camp Aguinaldo.

The wives described their husbands’ detention as arbitrary, saying the charges were recommended dismissed by pre-trial investigators. Some of the officers, they said, were even kept in solitary confinement.

They said the “entire proceedings have been characterized by arbitrariness calculated to demoralize the detainees,” citing the sudden transfer of the detainees from Camp Capinpin to ISAFP early this year.

“The right to liberty is our foremost human rights issue,” they said.

The wives claimed their husbands’ detention was “intended as a punishment,” not to bring them to trial. Detaining them in Tanay, in particular, was allegedly “calculated to deprive” the officers of regular visits from their families and lawyers.

Medical attention was “constantly denied or deprived,” religious services were “seldom” and allowed only upon request, and fitness routines were “curtailed,” the wives further claimed.

Leave passes for family emergencies were also not granted, according to the wives, who cited the example of the highest-ranked accused, Major General Renato Miranda, whose leave pass to visit his wife in the hospital was cut short.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-06-11T07:26:34+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Wed, 11 Jun 2008 07:26:34 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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