30 officers facing court martial can expect fair trial
Quezon City (22 November) -- THE MILITARY justice system can be "very harsh," but 30 officers set to face court martial over the botched February uprising can expect a "fair trial," Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Wednesday.
At the same time, Esperon continued to dodge criticism over his reported reversal of military prosecutors' recommendation to drop mutiny charges against the group of officers led by former Marine Commandant Major General Renato Miranda, Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim, and Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin.
"I just want to assure everybody that what we intend to have is a fair trial," Esperon told a news conference in Camp Aguinaldo. "[The] military justice system can be very harsh, but it is fair."
"I must tell you, that, as chief of staff, one of [my] major tasks is to keep order in the military establishment," he added.
Esperon has ordered court martial for 30 of 38 officers investigated over the alleged plan by disgruntled soldiers to withdraw support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo en masse last February 24, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the popular uprising that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
Esperon ordered the group charged with mutiny, a capital offense during times of war, and several other violations of the Articles of War.
"What has to be done was for me to decide and that was exactly what was followed… The pre-trial advise is recommendatory in nature [and] the decision is mine," Esperon said.
The military chief said he was on track to convene the five-man court martial panel that would try the 30 officers by next week. (PIA) [top]