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AFP orders court-martial to 30 officers

by Pesante-USA Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006 at 8:19 PM
magsasakapil@hotmail.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

TWO generals and 28 other military officers will face court-martial for their alleged participation in the abortive coup against the Arroyo administration in February. The two generals to face court-martial are Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda, former Marine Corps commandant and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, former commander of the elite First Scout Ranger Regiment.

AFP orders court-martial for 30 in Feb. coup

By Jomar Canlas and Anthony Vargas, Reporters

Manila---TWO generals and 28 other military officers will face court-martial for their alleged participation in the abortive coup against the Arroyo administration in February.

The two generals to face court-martial are Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda, former Marine Corps commandant and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, former commander of the elite First Scout Ranger Regiment.

“Today I hereby order the trial by special general court-martial of 30 officers,” the military chief, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., announced on Monday at a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo.

Esperon said these officers will be tried for disrespect, insubordination, mutiny, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline.

General Miranda is Esperon’s mistah (classmate) at the Philippine Military Academy.

Some of these charges, which violate the Articles of War, are punishable by death in wartime, the AFP chief explained.

“That’s how the military justice system works. It is harsh but we can assure you that it is fair. If it is not the death penalty…I do not want to speculate on that. I’m not an expert, but it could be reclusión perpetua [live imprisonment],” said Esperon.

He said the Judge Advocate General Office will convene the Special General Martial Panel (SGCM) soonest to try the cases.

The panel will be composed of one president, whose rank will be much higher than the accused officers, and four members including a lawyer.

This would be the second time within a span of two years that ranking military officers face a court-martial.

On December 2, 2005, an SGCM panel convicted the former military comptroller, retired Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment with hard labor.

Garcia is also facing charges at the Ombudsman.

Besides Miranda and Lim, 10 Marine and 18 army officers are facing court-martial.

The Marine officers are Cols. Ariel Querubin, Orlando de Leon, Armando Bañez and Januario Caringal and Lt. Cols. Velentin Hizon, Custodio Parcon, Romulo Gualdrapa and Achilles Segumalian, Maj. Francisco Domingo and 1st Lt. Belinda Ferrer.

The army officers are Lt. Cols. Nestor Flordeliza and Edmundo Malabanjot, Majors Jason Aquino and Jose Doctolero, Captains James Sababan. Montano Almodovar, Joey Fontiveros, Ruben Guinolbay, Isagani Criste, Wiliam Upano, Dante Langkit, Allan Aurino, Frederick Sales and 1st Lts. Ervin Divina Gracia and Jacon Cordero.

Esperon said he approved the court-martial of these officers on the recommendation of the military prosecutors who conducted the pretrial investigation.

But he ordered the dropping of charges against eight other officers for lack of evidence linking them to the February coup attempt.

The eight officers are Lt. Cols. Reynaldo Ocsan and Martin Villasan of the Marines, Army officers Maj. Oriel Pancog, Captain George and 1st Lts. Antonio Timbal, Jerald Reyes, Mario Bautista and Michael Cuarteros.

Lim and the other army officers are detained at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal; Miranda and the Marines are detained in Fort Bonifacio. Querubin and five others are detained in Fort San Felipe, Sangley Point, Cavite.

The February coup attempt is the second military uprising that the Arroyo administration has survived in the past three years.

On July 27, 2003, about 300 young military officers occupied the Oakwood Premier service apartments in Makati City, denouncing rampant corruption in the military and in the government.

However, the mutiny ended 20 hours after negotiations. The mutineers returned to their barracks and were eventually charged with violations of the Articles of War.

At the preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice, General Miranda cleared former Sen. Gregorio Honasan.

He told the Department of Justice he had never met or had any conversation with Honasan during the February 2006 standoff between Marines at the Marine headquarters.

Miranda said he has not seen or talked with Honasan for the past two years, which makes it impossible for the former senator to be the brains behind the alleged rebellion that Miranda is charged with launching against the Arroyo administration.

Miranda stressed that the accusations against him are baseless and must be dismissed by prosecutors of the justice department.

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