Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mutineer rejects claims of conspiracy with Reds


Mutineer rejects claims of conspiracy with Reds
First posted 02:36pm (Mla time) Feb 28, 2006
By Joel Francis Guinto

A DETAINED mutineer has rejected the military's allegations that he and his comrades have conspired with leftist insurgents to topple President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

First Lieutenant Lawrence San Juan was not allowed to speak to media during a hearing of the mutineers' coup d'etat case in Makati City Tuesday morning, but he issued the denial through his wife, Evelyn, and lawyer, Roel Pulido.

“He specifically denies that he's associated with those charges,” the wife told reporters.

“They [military] are bombarding you with these red scare tactics and yet they don't want Lieutenant San Juan to speak...,” Pulido said.

The military claimed that documents seized from San Juan after his capture in Batangas province last February 21 proved that there was a “political alliance” between disgruntled soldiers, leftist, and rightist groups to unseat Arroyo.

Officials said the documents revealed “Oplan Final Talk 2,” which served as a “memorandum of understanding” between the mutineers and the communist rebels.

Arroyo declared a state of national emergency last Friday, hours after the military claimed to have foiled an attempt to unseat her.

Brigadier General Danilo Lim, head of the First Scout Ranger Regiment in Bulacan province, had since been arrested for his alleged involvement in the plot.

San Juan's presence at the Makati RTC was his first appearance since he his arrest following his escape from detention in January.

Blindfolded and handcuffed to two security escorts, San Juan was escorted to the courtroom before 9 a.m.

All the other mutineers, including Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon, were handcuffed to two escorts each. During the last hearing, all the accused were handcuffed to only one escort, except for Faeldon.

It was in court where San Juan saw his two children for the first time since his capture.

“He's overjoyed [to see his kids],” Evelyn said.

San Juan even bottle-fed his son while the proceedings were ongoing.

Upon the request of San Juan's other lawyer, Theodore Te, Judge Oscar Pimentel ordered the Army to allow San Juan to be visited by his lawyer and family.

San Juan's wife said that since his arrest, she only saw him once, and only for five minutes.

In a statement released to media, the mutineers called on the public to “question the actions of our leaders.”

“They continue to run away from the issues that could dislodge them from their present position,” the statement said.

“The real essence of democracy is not whether order should be followed but instead order should be questioned. This is the only way to check tyranny,” it said.

“Please be free, it is your God-given right to do so. Think, say, express, show. Go and be a Filipino because you are born to be one,” it added.

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