Ouster call not directed at PNoy, Navy officer says

Posted at 07/18/11 8:51 PM

Photo of Philippine Navy Colonel Generoso Mariano with retired Marine Col. Ariel Querubin.

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Navy Colonel Generoso Mariano said he was not referring to President Benigno Aquino III in his statement calling for the government's ouster.

Mariano said he was referring to the system of governance in the country.

"Wala po akong pinapatamaan dito. It's not for him. Ito'y para sa bulok na sistema," he said.

Mariano is now being investigated by the military after a video clip of him calling for the government's overhaul made it on social network websites.

"At kung ang kasalukuyang pamahalaan ay walang intensyon o kaya walang naisasagawa upang isalba ang buhay ng nakakarami, it is the duty, it is the right of every Filipino including soldiers to replace the government, I repeat, replace the government," he said in the video clip.

Mariano has been confined to barracks pending the result of the investigation. His retirement benefits have also been put on hold.

Mariano retired on Sunday after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Navy Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay said Mariano can avail of his retirement benefits if he is cleared of any wrongdoing.

Mariano's friends believe that the Navy officer could have been used by some unscrupulous people.

'It was an academic statement'

Retired Marine Col. Ariel Querubin, who visited Mariano in his quarters on Monday, said those who uploaded the video should be charged.

In an interview with TV Patrol on Monday, Querubin said the video footage was taken last June 24, 2011 during a "Solidarity for Sovereignty" forum held at Club Filipino.

"Ang sagot po niya, hindi naman po niya pinapatamaan kahit sinong sitting President," he said.

"It was an academic statement... iyung sistema dapat palitan. Nabasa daw po niya sa US Constitution iyung nabasa niya," Querubin added. "Sabi ho niya wala siyang intensiyon, hindi siya nagbanggit ng kahit sino."

According to Querubin, Mariano is willing to undergo investigation and apologize over the incident. "He is willing to apologize for the inconvenience the statement caused the publci or the Armed Forces."

"He never said anything against President Aquino," he added.

Ex-rebel officer defends Aquino

Another former military rebel leader, meanwhile, warned the public against calls to oust Aquino.

"We must not be swayed by populist rhetoric severely lacking in substance and context, much more, something which is not shared by majority of the soldiers," Lim said. "We must not be seduced by those who exploit the soldiers' genuine grievances to derail our journey towards meaningful change."

Lim was given amnesty by the Palace after taking part in 2 failed attempts to overthrow the Arroyo government.

Lim said it would not be in the interest of soldiers to turn against the Aquino administration.

"For the soldiers to rebel against the Aquino administration, the very government that could put closure to many of these grievances and rectify many wrongdoings is not only contrary to the soldiers' interest but also illogical," he said.

"Malayong malayo ang pampulitikang karakter ng nakaraang rehimeng Arroyo at ng administrasyon ni Pres. Aquino. The former abused them, the latter, is providing hope and restoring integrity to the profession," Lim added. - with reports from Alex Santos, ABS-CBN News