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2 Magdalo soldiers to serve time for Oakwood mutiny

MANILA, Philippines - Two of 31 rebel soldiers of the Magdalo group will now have to stay behind bars for their mutiny at the Oakwood Premier, now the Ascott Hotel, in Makati City in 2003.

Former first lieutenants Rex Bolo and Lawrence San Juan will have to serve their sentence of six years and one day handed down with finality by a Makati regional trial court last week, according to a copy of a ruling received by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In a two-page order obtained by The STAR, Makati Judge Andres Soriano of Branch 148 denied the motion filed by Bolo and San Juan seeking reconsideration of the decision issued last March that found the two former soldiers guilty beyond reasonable doubt of coup d’etat as participants in the mutiny.

“No new issues were raised to warrant the reversal or modification of the assailed decision of this court,” read the ruling.

The case against the two had remained after they opted not to join the rest of the Magdalo group in seeking amnesty from the government. 

Of the 31 original accused, only the two had remained as defendants in the case after they decided not to join their fellow Magdalos, including re-elected Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, in availing of the amnesty grant in October 2010 by President Aquino.

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The judge stood by his finding that San Juan and Bolo “did not merely conspire to commit coup d’etat but actually decided to commit it when (they) participated in the sudden and immediate takeover of Oakwood building on that fateful day of July 27, 2003.”

He again rejected the bid of San Juan to plead guilty for the lesser offense of conspiracy to commit coup d’etat, saying the issue is mere rehash of what had been resolved in the earlier decision.

San Juan and Bolo, represented by lawyer Crystal Tenorio, had been transferred to the Philippine Army’s custody immediately after the promulgation of their case last March. It was not clear if they could be transferred to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City to serve their sentence.

They are expected to elevate the case to the Court of Appeals, which can reverse the lower court’s ruling if it finds grave abuse of discretion on the part of the lower court.

Before the promulgation of the ruling, San Juan and Bolo were already ordinary civilians after they were granted bail by the previous judge who handled the case, Oscar Pimentel, who retired in 2011.

In March 2007, San Juan had told the trial court he wanted to change his plea from “not guilty” of coup d’etat to “guilty” of conspiracy to commit coup d’etat “so as to finally serve sentence for such crime and move on with his life.”

The 2003 uprising, in which foreign tourists and diplomats were briefly trapped after about 300 rebel soldiers seized part of Makati’s financial district, was in protest against alleged corruption in the previous administration.

 

 

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