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‘AFP to find redemption in plotters’ court-martial’

- Paolo Romero -
President Arroyo expressed support yesterday for the Army’s decision to court martial 20 of its officers, including a general of the elite Scout Ranger regiment, for allegedly attempting a coup d’état against her last month.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, in a statement, expressed optimism that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) "has the full capacity to repair and redeem itself from the wayward actions of a few" even as he gave assurances that the crackdown on alleged coup plotters would not be a political witch hunt.

"As commander-in-chief, (Mrs.) Arroyo supports all measures to instill military justice, discipline, unity and morale in the AFP," Bunye said. "These measures will be implemented in the course of the AFP modernization and reform agenda and will not be impinged upon by any form of politics.

"This is not only about the filing of court-martial charges, this is also about instilling the true spirit of professionalism in the soldiery," he said.

Bunye added that the Palace remains confident of the professionalism of the members of the AFP.

Army spokesman Maj. Bartolome Bacarro announced on Thursday that Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and 19 other officers had been recommended for court-martial for their alleged involvement in a coup attempt against the President.

Lim reportedly planned to lead a breakaway group of soldiers to withdraw support from Mrs. Arroyo last Feb. 24 as well as to head the military contingent of the coup plot, reportedly supported by some opposition leaders and communist rebels.

Bacarro refused to disclose the names of the other officers but said the charges had been sent to AFP chief Gen. Generoso Senga for final review.

Lim, along with the other officers, could face charges of violating Articles of War 67 for mutiny or failure to suppress mutiny, and Articles of War 97 for conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline.

"All of them have varying degrees of participation. All of them have corresponding violations of the Articles of War," Bacarro said.

Officials pointed out those recommended for court-martial had been picked out from at least 59 Army officers and 37 enlisted personnel who were investigated.

The officers and servicemen who would be tried for administrative liabilities in connection with the failed coup would also be tried by the Efficiency and Separation Board or ESB, Bacarro said.

In times of war, mutiny carries the maximum penalty of death but in peacetime, those found guilty of mutiny face life imprisonment. Those charged before the ESB, on the other hand, face dismissal from the service and forfeiture of their separation benefits.

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

ARTICLES OF WAR

BACARRO

BARTOLOME BACARRO

BUNYE

DANILO LIM

EFFICIENCY AND SEPARATION BOARD

GENEROSO SENGA

MRS. ARROYO

PRESIDENT ARROYO

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