Overthrow call not vs President Aquino, colonel claims
Retired Marine Col. Generoso Mariano’s videotaped message calling for the ouster of the government was directed at a “hypothetical government,” and not that of the incumbent Aquino administration’s, his lawyer has told a military inquiry board.
Mariano, who retired on July 17, a little over two weeks after making the controversial video, faced preliminary investigation by a four-man Navy panel in Fort Bonifacio on Wednesday.
The 56-year-old Marine officer, who served as deputy commander of the Naval Reserve Command before he retired, denied before the board that he was out to overthrow the Aquino administration which assumed office only a year ago.
“If you would go through the video… it does not state this present government. It was just ‘the government,’ so he speaks of a hypothetical government not necessarily this specific one,” his lawyer Raffy Cerdo told reporters in a phone interview after the hearing.
“(There was) really no intention to incite sedition or to relay anything seditious because he never even knew that the video was to be sent out,” Cerdo said, adding that the colonel spoke of the country’s situation “in general.”
The video footage dated July 3 showed Mariano in a Marine shirt seated on a desk with a microphone through which he voiced his grievances against the government and complained about rising prices of food, commodities and medicines.
“We also see that our government does not have the capability to undertake measures to save us from hunger and death. What our people see and feel is not different from what we soldiers feel,” he said in Filipino.
Duty to protect
“But we have a duty that we have not forgotten, the duty to protect the Filipino people. And if the incumbent government has no intention or if it does not do anything to save the lives of many, it is the duty, it is the right of every Filipino including soldiers to replace the government, I repeat, replace the government,” Mariano declared.
Though the military knew about the video immediately after its release, it was only last Friday when the Philippine Navy announced that Mariano would face court martial. He was restricted to his quarters in Fort Bonifacio in the meantime.
At the hearing, the panel led by Marine deputy commandant Brig. Gen. Eugene Clemen grilled Mariano about the video which was uploaded on the popular online video sharing site YouTube.
Cerdo claimed the video only showed a very short portion of Mariano’s supposedly long speech of about 15 minutes to 20 minutes.
Out of proportion
“It was so blown out of proportion that it was taken out of context. It would be necessary to see the actual speech before we could actually make a pronouncement as to whether this was seditious or not. If it was this one, eventually it may seem seditious but actually it is not so,” he said.
Cerdo said the video was uploaded without Mariano’s knowledge.
“It was never his intention to do that and he was about to retire. He will not jeopardize his retirement benefits by saying something that would be against (the law),” he said.
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