54 Oakwood mutineers to be freed in January next year
Quezon City (12 April) -- A military court on Wednesday accepted the plea bargain offer of 54 junior officers involved in the failed 2003 Oakwood mutiny, paving the way for their release on January 27 next year.
Radio station DzBB reported that Anna Vergansoza Espanar, a member of the court martial, said the junior officers were sentenced to seven years and six months in prison but their jail terms were reduced due to "mitigating circumstances".
The general court martial was presided by Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Legaspi.
The officers, who had already spent 3 years, 8 months and 14 days in prison, will serve a shorter time and will be released on January 27, 2008.
The 54 junior officers were among the 321 "Magdalo" soldiers who took over the Oakwood Premier Suites in Ayala Center, Makati on July 27, 2003. The mutiny, led by Lt. Senior Grade Antonio Trillanes IV, opposed the alleged corruption of the Arroyo government.
The officers' dishonorable discharge" would only be served at the end of their confinement and upon the approval of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The officers struck a plea bargain with military prosecutors, pleading guilty to charges of violating Articles of War 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline) in exchange for dropping of four other more grave charges.
The plea bargain agreement, however, exclude 29 other officers to include the hardcore leaders of the Magdalo: former Navy Lieutenant Senior Grade Antonio Trillanes IV who is seeking a Senate seat, Army Captains Gerardo Gambala and Milo Maestrecampo, and Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon.
Earlier, four junior military officers linked to the mutiny were cleared of all charges for lack of probable cause.
The four junior officers are 2nd Lieutenants Percival Acanar and Gerald Daen, and 1st Lieutenants Edmun Bandilla and Marcelino Mendoza. The court said they will be restored to full duty status, pending administrative concerns such as counseling. (PIA) [top]