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Philippines military officers sentenced in mutiny plot

[JURIST] A Philippine military tribunal sentenced 54 military officers to seven years and six months in jail Wednesday in connection with a failed mutiny [BBC report] in July 2003 in which 300 soldiers from elite special forces took over buildings in Manila in an effort to overthrow the government. More than 50 of the officers pleaded guilty to violating military order and discipline in a plea bargain in order to avoid the charge of mutiny which carries a 40-year jail term. The officers sentenced Wednesday will actually be freed next January as a result of time already served and other mitigating circumstances. An additional 30 officers, most of whom are of high rank in the military, are facing courts-martial on charges of conduct unbecoming of an officer and of attempting a coup.

In February 2006, police charged [JURIST report] 16 people with rebellion for allegedly planning to oust Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [official website; BBC profile]. The coup plot involved five members of the Philippines House of Representatives, soldiers, a communist rebel leader, and Philippines Senator Gregorio Honasan [official profile], who participated in other coup attempts during the 1990s. In November 2006, the decision to court-martial [JURIST report] thirty Philippine military officers on mutiny charges in connection with their alleged involvement in the February coup plot was part of a larger Philippine effort to curb so-called "adventurism," the willful disobeyance of official orders, which has characterized the Philippine military's willingness to participate in many coup attempts over the past few decades. AP has more.

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