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PIA Press Release

Esperon cites ex-mutineers for giving away Lim, Trillanes

Manila (1 December) -- Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. disclosed on Saturday that two participants in the short-lived 2003 Oakwood mutiny have warned the military leadership about the new efforts at destabilization by the Magdalo group.

He said the military received the tip only hours before Senator Antonio F.Trillanes IV, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and former Vice President Teofisto Guingona attempted to grab power last Thursday. At that time, the AFP was still trying to verify the information.

However, Esperon said that the information provided by the two Oakwood mutineers enabled the military to make some preparations, explaining the timely response by the military when Lim, Trillanes, Guingona and their supporters went to the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.

The two, along with a handful of Oakwood mutiny officers facing trial for coup d etat, walked out of the Makati City regional trial court, marched to the hotel where they subsequently called for the unseating of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

"In the early morning of (Nov.) 29, there were two soldiers who participated in the Oakwood mutiny were again invited to join them. This report reached us, the two soldiers reported this to us and based on that report, we made some declarations of alert or preparations," he said.

"That explains why in a very short notice, in a very short period of time, the Marines were already in Ayala surrounding the Manila Peninsula," said Esperon, referring to the group of Brig. Gen. Jonathan Martir who was the ground commander of the Marines.

When asked why the military was not able to pre-empt the plan when they were already tipped off by the two Oakwood mutineers, Esperon said: "We do not know that it would be (the walk-out for the Makati) RTC. We just got the information that there would be some activities that would be staged."

Esperon said the two soldiers are now supportive of the military. He said the two did not rejoin the group of Lim, a former commander of the elite First Scout Ranger Regiment, and Trillanes because they know that they would be abandoned in the end.

"They are with us, they side with us and I must commend them for coming forward and report the matter to us...They know that they will be abandoned by this (self-styled) so-called messianic leaders," said Esperon, referring to Lim and Trillanes.

The PNP has filed rebellion charges against Lim, Trillanes and at least 46 other military officers and civilians. A four-man panel headed by State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco are determining if there is prima facie case to elevate the case before the courts.

Esperon said the situation in Metro Manila has stabilized but said the military would be prepared for another power grab attempt by the group of Lim, who was involved in the failed coups in the 1980s against the Aquino government.

In Feb. 25 last year, Lim, former Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda and 26 other Army and Marine officers planned to withdraw support from President Arroyo. They are detained and facing trial by a general court martial.

"Everything is back to normal in the Philippines after the incident. I think we are very much in control of the situation...Im talking about the physical security situation, we could go about our daily lives here in Manila," the AFP chief added. (PNA) [top]

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