Fri, Jul 09, 2010 - Page 4 News List

Rebel unrepentant over Philippine coup attempts

TOUGH LOVE The soldier said he and his co-conspirators acted in the best interests of the nation in opposing a president implicated in vote rigging, corruption and favoritism

AP , MANILA, PHILIPPINES

A rebel soldier who turned himself in to face charges stemming from his involvement in two coup attempts in the Philippines against a former president said yesterday he had no regrets over his actions.

Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon, who was accused of helping lead 300 soldiers in taking over the upscale Oakwood Hotel and a nearby shopping center in Manila in July 2003 and of fleeing a courtroom in 2007 while on trial, said he was turning himself in because the country had a new, legitimately elected president.

“There is no reason for me to stay unaccountable now because we have a new government which has the mandate of the people,” Faeldon said after he was taken into military custody.

“I cannot choose my own commander in chief. But in the case of the previous president, I am one of those who believe she didn’t possess the mandate of the people,” he said.

Faeldon went into hiding after he walked out of a court in November 2007 and along with other mutinous officers occupied a five-star Manila hotel to press their demand for former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s resignation.

Faeldon and the others were on trial for a previous coup attempt in July 2003. The rebels denounced corruption in the government and the armed forces.

Both incidents highlighted the Philippines’ political instability and restiveness in the 120,000-member military, which has struggled to modernize and train its troops to fight multiple insurgencies despite funding shortfalls.

Arroyo has been accused of vote rigging during the 2004 election, corruption and favoritism, allegations that stoked political and military unrest during her nine years in office. She stepped down last week and has denied any wrongdoing.

Her successor, newly elected President Benigno Aquino III, has promised to form a commission to investigate his predecessor.

Faeldon and his co-accused have said they did not plan to stage coups and were simply protesting Arroyo’s policies. They are facing charges of mutiny and organizing an attempted coup.

Of the original number, nine officers were convicted and sentenced in 2008 to prison terms of 12 to 40 years. They later apologized to Arroyo and were pardoned. But six others refused to say they were sorry and five of them are still being detained.

Most of the others have been discharged and some have returned to service.

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