Philippine president orders release of 133 mutineers

MANILA, Nov. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Saturday ordered the release of 133 junior military officers and enlisted men suspected of involvement in the failed mutiny on July 27 in Manila.

Their release was made as part of her policy of leniency and reconciliation with justice "considering that they were found to have been deceived and misled into joining the attempted coup," a Presidential Palace statement quoted Arroyo as saying.

Arroyo said the release was recommended by General Narciso Abaya, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, on the basis of an investigation panel's report.

The authorities have already announced the release of 77 soldiers who have been cleared of charges in connection with the military adventurism.

Arroyo said the investigation panel has recommended the filing of charges before a General Court Martial against a total of 270 military personnel, including 94 officers, for alleged complicity in the commission of offense of mutiny and other related offenses.

"The 270 military personnel stand to be tried before the General Court Martial on account of their complicity in espousing extra-legal means to accomplish and justify an unlawful end," Arroyo said.

Abaya was said to constitute and convene a General Court Martial soon to try these soldiers.

A total of 356 renegade soldiers seized the Oakwood hotel in the Makati business district in Manila before dawn on July 27, demanding the resignations of President Arroyo and other ranking military and government officials for alleged corruption. The 20-hour standoff ended peacefully through negotiations.

The investigation panel will conduct further proceedings on soldiers who had been earlier implicated but were not in the Oakwood hotel during the standoff. Enditem


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