Press Release
April 28, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today expressed the view that there is no more reason for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to pursue court martial proceedings against former Brig. Gen. Francisco Gudani and Col. Alexander Balutan of the Philippine Marines after the Supreme Court invalidated a provision in Executive Order 464 banning civilian, military and police officials from testifying in congressional hearings without presidential clearance.

Pimentel said that in fairness to Gudani and Balutan, the military tribunal should expedite the resolution of the charges against the two officers who were ordered court martialled after they testified before a Senate inquiry into the alleged involvement of certain military generals in the alleged rigging of the 2004 Presidential Election in Mindanao despite a ban imposed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

They were accused of violating EO 464. But since that portion of EO 464 requiring presidential clearance for attendance in congressional hearings has been struck down by the Supreme Court, I think there is no more reason to go ahead with the court martial proceedings, he said.

Pimentel said that while the process of the military justice system must be respected, the law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, should prevail over the ordinary processes of the courts including the military tribunals.

I think that members of the military tribunal have taken into consideration the decision of the Supreme Court on EO 464. It would be a grave oversight if they will disregard the high court ruling on the issue, he said.

Gudani compulsorily retired from the AFP even before he could be formally charged with military court for alleged violation of the Articles of War.

As commander of Task Force Ranao based in Marawi City during the May 2004 elections, Gudani was one of the military generals mentioned in the Hello Garci tapes. Gudani was abruptly pulled out from Marawi by AFP highers-up allegedly after then Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano complained of his refusal to take part in the alleged special operations to manipulate the poll results.

Balutan was one of the military officers under Gudanis command who witnessed and corroborated the latters testimony on the alleged election irregularities.

Pimentel bewailed that military officers like Gudani and Balutan had to be subjected to punishment and humiliation for refusing to have any part in a blatant attempt to cover up the large-scale election cheating in Mindanao.

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