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Marine colonel detained over calls to 'replace government'

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

(UPDATE 3 - 7:46 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines - A Philippine Marine Colonel is under investigation for allegedly calling for the “replacement” of  the national leadership.

The message, contained in a video, was released just before President Aquino was to preside over a command conference with top military brass in Camp Aguinaldo.

Copies of the video statement were reportedly circulated in various military camps. In it, Col. Mariano expresses frustration with the Aquino administration, in particular lamenting its failure to control rising commodity prices.

At the start of the video, Mariano is identified as the deputy commander of the Naval Reserve Command. It also refers to Mariano as the commander of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 9 in 2006. It also stated that Mariano was stationed at the Spratly Islands for six months and was one of the soldiers “imprisoned” for the 1989 coup.

Defense and AFP sources admit they are aware of Mariano’s video. They said the Philippine Navy has begun an investigation.

Mariano has been ordered "restricted to camp". News of the colonel's detention came to light just a couple of days before his official retirement on July 17.

A reserve colonel, he was one of those promoted in 2009 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo upon the recommendation of then Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro.

Navy Flag Officer-In-Command Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said Mariano could be held liable for violating AFP rules and regulations. He assured Mariano’s sentiment would not not have a wide following in the military nor does it reflect the views of majority.

In his videotaped statement which bore the date July 3, 2011, Mariano – wearing a blue t – shirt with an embroidered Marine unit logo – laments that the national government has failed to act decisively to deal with rising prices and growing poverty faced by the Filipino people.

“We soldiers are human, too. Nararamdaman rin po naming sundalo ang kahirapan ng naidudulot ng walang humpay na pagtaas ng bilihin, mga gamot at pagkain. Nakikita din po naming ang pamahalaan ay walang kakayahang gumawa ng hakbang upang maiiwas tayo sa kagutuman at kamatayan,” Mariano said, reading from a handwritten statement.

[We soldiers are human too. We soldiers feel the hardships brought by the continuous increases in the prices of commodities, medicine, and food. We also see that the government is incapable to take steps to save people from hunger and death.]

In view of this, he stressed that it was the duty of the Filipino soldier to defend the citizenry.

Wala pong pagkakaiba ang nararamdaman naming mga sundalo sa nakikita at nararamdaman ng ating mga mamamayan.” [What we soldiers feel is no diffent from what our people see and feel.]

May katungkulan kami na hindi namin nakakaligtaan, ang katungkulang na ipagtanggol ang mamamayang Pilipino [ We have a responsibility that we don't forget, that is to defend the Filipino people],” he said.

Mariano added ominously: “At kung ang kasalukuyang pamahalaan ay walang intensyon o kaya walang naisasagawa upang isalba ang buhay ng nakakarami [And if the present government has no intention or could not do anything to save the lives of the majority]  – it is the duty, it is the right of every Filipino including soldiers to replace the government, I repeat, replace the government.”

Ipaglaban po natin ang karapatan mabuhay at maunlad na kinabukasan ng ating kabataan,” he said. “Ang hangad natin ay mabuhay base sa katotohanan at katarungan at kapayapaan at kaunlaran" 

[Let us fight for our right to live and for the good future of our youth. Our aim is to live based on truth, justice, peace, and progress.]

"Let us once and for all build a nation based on truth for without it, there can be no justice. And without justice, we shall have no peace. And without peace, there will be no development," he added.

He also said the people should stop being fooled by politicians who make promises and who cite statistics.

Huwag na tayong magpaloko sa mga nangangakong sinungaling. Huwag na tayong magpagamit para labanan ang kapwa nating Pilipino sa Mindanao [Let us not allow ourselves to be fooled by liars. Let us not allow ourselves to be used to fight against fellow Filipinos in Mindanao.]

He concluded his videotaped statement by quoting Jose Rizal: “If we have bad leaders today and in the past, it is not the fault of the many who know less but the fault of the few who know more but do nothing or who do not do enough.”

Navy Flag Officer in Commander Vice Admiral Alexander Pama confirmed they are investigating Mariano but downplayed that his expressed sentiment was widespread in the military.

“I gave a directive that he be placed under investigation and siya ay restricted to camp… Pinag aaralan naming ngayon ito dahil may posibilidad may mga na violate na rules and regulations,” Pama told News5's Malacanang Correspondent Roices Naguit-Sibal.

While Mariano did not raise any issue against the Navy, the Armed Forces or the Defense Department, Pama said they still want to know his motives are as his statements sounded political in nature. “We want to investigate kung ano nagudyok sa kanya,” he said.

Pama said the soldiers’ morale remains high.

TV5 said a copy of Mariano's statement had been forwarded to some Catholic bishops and student organizations.

Last week, Mariano reportedly invited some personalities for a meeting in an undisclosed place in Metro Manila wherein he told them about the need to call for a change in government leadership. (With additional reports from Jaime Sinapit, InterAksyon.com)

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