MANILA, Philippines - Retired Marines Col. Ariel Querubin is now a free man and this will become official once Congress concurs with Proclamation No. 50 of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
The proclamation grants amnesty to soldiers linked to the Oakwood mutiny in 2003, the Philippine Marines stand-off in Fort Bonifacio last February, 2006 and the Peninsula Manila incident last November, 2007.
Many are criticizing Aquino’s move saying this could embolden other soldiers to engage in military adventurism.
But Querubin who was a key player in the Fort Bonifacio standoff said he hopes their years of detention will discourage soldiers from doing so.
Querubin also said he believes a coup attempt against the current administration is unlikely since President Aquino pushes for good governance.
"All the pronouncements of the president are friendly to the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines], I don't see any reason for them to rebel or even gripe... The things that happened to us, I think that's enough deterrent." Querubin said.
"We were very idealistic"
President Aquino may have granted amnesty to Querubin and hundreds of other soldiers, but Querubin reveals that back in 1989, he also took part in one of the coup attempts against Aquino's mother, the late President Corazon Aquino.
He and other soldiers were detained for their actions but they were granted amnesty under the Ramos administration.
"During that time the government of Corazon Aquino was perceived to be left leaning, we were very idealistic. I was exposed to a lot of combat engagements. The situation then was ripe for recruitment, agitation and everything," said Querubin who is a recipient of the Medal of Valor, the highest military award.
"Not a coup"
Querubin however clarifies that the Fort Bonifacio standoff was not a coup attempt but a withdrawal of support to then President Arroyo.
"We were looking for other methods, it wasn't a coup, Gen. Angelo Reyes withdrew support from Erap (former President Joseph Estrada) and the Supreme Court ruled it was legal. That was the same thing we had done." the retired colonel recalled.
He also revealed that he already met with Mrs. Arroyo before the incident and they discussed various issues within the AFP. But he admitted that he could not turn his back on his colleagues who were disgruntled with the Arroyo admnistration.
"I had the rare privilege of being called 'my hero' by the president (Mrs. Arroyo) so I would have opted not to take the cudgels for the junior officers and their men but it was a call that I needed to do because of being idealistic, and probably my friendship with the president ended when the sentiments of the people are against her." Querubin said.
Although he now has a clean slate and can continue his military career if he wants to, Querubin said he would rather join the private sector.
"There are many offers, I will be joining a company, San Miguel Corporation. I still have to talk to Mr. (Ramon) Ang," he said. Mr. Ang is the President and Chief Operating Officer of SMC.