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11 junior officers in 2003 mutiny found guilty

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Trial for Trillanes, 5 others to continue

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 10:31:00 07/10/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Eleven junior officers accused of leading a short-lived uprising in Makati City in 2003 were found “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” Thursday for conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman by a military court and sentenced to be discharged from the service.

Convicted were Captain Gary Alejano and Second Lieutenant Jonnel Sanggalang from the Marines; Lieutenants Senior Grade James Layug, Eugene Gonzales, Andy Torrato, and Manuel Cabochan, Lieutenant Junior Grade Arturo Pascua, and Ensign Armand Pontejos from the Navy; and Captain Segundino Orpiano, and First Lieutenants Francisco Ashley Acedillo and Billy Pascua from the Air Force.

They are among the faction of the Magdalo group that continues to be defiant of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The verdict leaves only Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and five junior officers: fugitive Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon, Army First Lieutenant Warren Lee Dagupon, and Marine Second Lieutenants Alquin Canson, Junnibert Tubo, and Edwin Duetao, to continue to stand trial before the court martial.

Major General Nathaniel Legaspi, the president of the court, said the verdict would become final once approved by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the commander-in-chief.

The 11 officers showed no emotion as they stood at attention while Legaspi read the verdict, which he said was “unequivocal” since violation of Article of War 96 or conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman is punishable only with discharge from the service.

“The 11 accused officers listed below are adjudged guilty beyond reasonable doubt…this general court martial voted unanimously and hereby imposes the following sentence upon the 11 accused AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] officers listed above to discharge from the military,” Legaspi said.

“This is one less legal problem. Now we can face charges before the civilian court,” Alejano told reporters after the hearing.

The group is also on trial for coup d’etat before Branch 148 of the Makati regional trial court over the so-called Oakwood uprising on July 27, 2003, and except for Acedillo, they are also charged with rebellion for the takeover of the Manila Peninsula Hotel on November 29, 2007.

“We feel relieved. Now we can move on, we can go on with our lives already, so that the AFP can move on too,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said their group was a burden to the military “logistically,” since the establishment mobilizes troops to secure them during hearings.

He said breaking from the chain of command during the Oakwood siege was a “mistake” but he said the group does not regret exposing alleged corruption in government.

“One way or another, may mali kaming ginawa [we committed a mistake], and we can’t go unpunished,” he said.

“We still stand by what we believe[d] in during Oakwood,” said Gonzales, who once served as speech writer for former military chief Angelo Reyes when the latter was defense secretary.

The Oakwood mutiny happened during Reyes’ term as defense secretary. He resigned several weeks after the failed uprising.

Except for Acedillo who did not join the November 29 hotel occupation and is detained at Villamor Airbase, the rest of the officers sentenced on Thursday are detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

In April, nine junior officers who belong to a Magdalo faction that has reaffirmed allegiance to the government, reversed their not guilty pleas on coup d’etat charges before the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148.

The nine, led by Army Captains Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrecampo, were earlier discharged from the service after they pleaded guilty before a court martial.

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-07-10T05:42:18+00:00UTC07bUTCThu, 10 Jul 2008 05:42:18 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

Posted in Uncategorized

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