Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2005/05/05MANILA2172.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05MANILA2172 2005-05-12 08:14 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Manila
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002172

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EAP/PMBS, INR/EAP
NSC FOR GREEN
SEOUL FOR ERIC JOHN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AADP ASEC MOPS PGOV PINR PREL RP PINS PTER
SUBJECT: ENLISTED OAKWOOD MUTINEERS COP A PLEA

REF: 03 MANILA 4054

¶1. (SBU) Summary. On May 11, an Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) military tribunal accepted a plea bargain
for about 190 enlisted men who participated in the failed
July 2003 “Oakwood” mutiny. They will return to active duty
status but with demotions and loss of pay. They will likely
be exempt from a sentence of confinement with hard labor,
given that the men have been in jail already for almost two
years, while undergoing trial. The ruling contrasts with the
even lighter punishment meted in response to the 1986 and
1989 coup attempts, when the guilty soldiers served their
sentences by doing push-ups. The current ruling represents a
step toward closure of the episode, desired by both the
civilian and military leadership, especially toward the
enlisted men. Plea bargains for at least most of the
mutiny’s leaders will likely now follow. End Summary.

Plea Bargain
————

¶2. (SBU) A five person AFP General Court Martial on May 11
ordered the release of 190 enlisted soldiers, sailors, and
airmen who staged the July 2003 “Oakwood” mutiny in Makati
City, Metro Manila (reftel). The defendants, ranging in rank
from private to master sergeant, under a plea bargain pled
guilty to three charges of disrespect and insubordination.
The Court dropped main charge of mutiny and ordered the
defendants reinstated to active duty — but with a three-rank
demotion, forfeiture of two-thirds of their basic salary for
three to six months, and confinement with hard labor for a
year, according to press reports. Defense lawyers asked for
commutation of a one-year jail term with hard labor since
their clients have in jail already for 22 months, while
undergoing military trial; the court is expected to concur.

¶3. (SBU) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) welcome the
decision as a “very good example of justice and
reconciliation.” The maximum penalty for mutiny would have
been death. There were some reported complaints by other
enlisted, men that the guilty had gotten off too “lightly,”
without even dishonorable discharges. However, the Chief
Prosecutor in the court-martial, Colonel Julius Magno,
emphasized that the demotion and forfeiture of pay was
already “a very grave imposition.” Press commentators noted
the even lighter punishments that then-AFP Chief Fidel Ramos
had imposed on plotters in the 1980s coup attempts —
push-ups.

Ringleaders May Follow Suit
—————————

¶4. (SBU) The fate of 96 junior officers involved in the
mutiny still hangs in the balance, and the Makati Regional
Trial Court may decide next week on their cases. According
to the attorney for many of the ringleaders, they had long
refused on a plea bargain until their enlisted men were first
freed; she predicted a similar plea bargain for the leaders
will follow. A Presidential legal counsel separately
indicated privately that Malacanang would look favorably upon
amnesty for at least most of the mutiny leaders, but only
after conviction — on some charges, if not the most serious.

Comment: putting it in the past
——————————-

¶5. (SBU) In the midst of destabilization plots and coup
rumors, the political leadership of both the military and
Malacanang probably decided that it was better to bring
closure to this incident and not further punish the mutineers
for raising concerns that many active officers and enlisted
men continue to believe were valid. The ongoing US-supported
Philippine Defense Reform program addresses many of the
mutineers’ key concerns, which were also reflected in the
Feliciano Commission report, which the AFP has been trying to
follow as a parallel pattern for reform. Although some
grumble that such leniency only encourages a culture of
military protest and attempts at intervention, the overall
reaction in both civilian and military circles is probably
relief that this uncomfortable and embarrassing incident is
now almost behind the Philippines, and that punishment should
in any event be lightest for the enlisted men.
Ricciardone

   

 

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