Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Oakwood Mutiny Sentences Passed

If you were going to stage a Coup why would you take over the Oakwood? Only in the Philippines.

Philippine army tribunal sentences 12 mutineers

A Philippine military tribunal dismissed 12 young army and navy officers from service on Wednesday for a failed mutiny in 2003, part of a deal which allows them to escape doing further jail time.

Brigadier-General Nathaniel Legaspi said the officers had pleaded guilty to a lesser offence of conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.

"This general court martial hereby imposes the sentence of dishonourable discharge," Legaspi said.

The sentence has to be confirmed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The officers will remain in custody until then.

The 12 officers were among 29 leaders of the "Oakwood Mutiny", when soldiers took control of a service apartment block in the centre of Manila's Makati financial district for several hours. It ended without violence.

Another 15 officers were expected to enter into deals with the government, lawyers for the coup leaders told reporters. Only two officers, including one who won a senate seat in the May elections, have refused to make deals and will fight it out in court.

About 80 officers and 200 enlisted men were court martialled for the mutiny.

A few dozen were cleared because they were found to have been misled into taking part.

In 2005, the enlisted men were freed from army detention and restored to active service after they agreed to enter into plea bargaining deals, accepting minor punishments.

In April 2007, 54 officers also agreed to similar deals and would be freed on Jan. 27 next year after serving their prison terms. But they are deemed discharged dishonourably and cannot expect to be reinstated into active duty.

Arroyo, first propelled to power in a military-backed popular revolt in 2001, remains unpopular due to allegations of graft and vote-rigging and fraud in the 2004 presidential elections.