Nine Magdalo soldiers freed


Posted at May 16 2008 01:46 PM | Updated as of May 16 2008 09:46 PM

Nine junior officers who were convicted in connection with the short-lived 2003 Oakwood mutiny were released from detention in Fort Bonifacio Friday after they were granted executive clemency by President Arroyo.

The Philippine Army said the nine officers were freed from custody by newly-installed Army commander Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado after completing their medical tests and securing a release order from the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 148.

Those released were Captains Milo Maestrecampo and Gerardo Gambala, Albert  Baloloy, John  Andres, Alvin Ebreo, Laurence Luis Somera, First Lieutenants Florentino Somera and Cleo Donga-as and Second Lieutenant Bryan Yasay.

The nine signed a joint sworn acceptance of conditional pardon on Thursday morning, the Army said.  They were received by their lawyer Elaine Rombaoa.

Gambala and Maestrecampo were meted with life sentences on April 8 for leading the short-lived mutiny while the seven others were sentenced to six to 12 years in prison as accomplices.

The sentences were handed to the seven despite admitting to the coup charges by changing their not guilty plea to guilty.

On April 11, the officers publicly asked for pardon from the President.

Retired Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. recommended pardon for Gambala's group, which was accepted by Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro. The defense chief passed the recommendation to Malacañang.

On May 12, during the turnover ceremony for Esperon's retirement, Mrs. Arroyo approved the military’s recommendation to pardon the nine officers.