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Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Hard time for hardcore Magdaló

By Anthony Vargas, Reporter

Detained mutinous officers are treated more leniently than their comrades who remain defiant to the government, the Army’s spokesman said Tuesday.

“There are slight differences [in treatment],” Maj. Ernesto Torres Jr. told reporters during a chance interview in Camp Aguinaldo.

The officers, who are detained in the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio in Makati City, belong to the Magdaló group who spearheaded the Oakwood mutiny in July 2003. They are facing charges of rebellion before a civilian court and a military tribunal.

The officers who have expressed support for President Arroyo reportedly enjoy extra comforts and benefits.

The group of Capt. Gerar-do Gambala who had apologized to the President in 2004 is reportedly housed in comfortable detention centers, which even have sleeping quarters for visitors.

Gambala’s group was also given livelihood projects like poultry raising and soap-making so they could augment their salaries.

Torres admitted that the guards of the defiant officers “are stricter” but that’s because the officers had a record of escape attempts.

He made it clear that while the defiant officers were being separately detained, their cells are not what is described as a bartolina, or isolation chamber.

“They [defiant officers] are given enough food…[and] their living conditions are good,” Torres said.

Reportedly kept in isolation are the officers led by Captain Dante Langkit, 1st Lt. Sonny Sarmiento and Aldrin Baldonado. On the other hand, the salaries of former fugitive Magdaló members Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon, Army Lts. Patricio Bumidang Jr., Lawrence San Juan, Nathaniel Rabonza and Sarmiento have been suspended.

Sarmiento and Baldonado, who were arrested in their safe house in Quezon City in July 2006, are also facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Last week the wives of Sarmiento and Baldonado said their husbands were being kept in isolation to break their will and force them to cooperate.

Sources close to the two officers said they were being pressured to implicate opposition figures who harbored them while they were on the run.



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