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Marine probe into Feb. 26 standoff begins

The Marines started its investigation into the February 26 standoff at its headquarters in Fort Bonifacio where servicemen protested the relief of their erstwhile commandant, Major Gen. Renato Miranda. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officials said investigators would determine if a purported plot to oust President Arroyo from power sparked the standoff. Marine deputy commandant Brig. Gen. Romeo Abayan will lead the investigating panel. "He's (Abayon) looking into the case, he is investigating it - the participation, the extent, the personnel involved … They (investigators) will try to find if there is conspiracy," said AFP spokesman Col. Tristan Kison. Colonel Ariel Querubin, who was sought for arrest on allegations of mounting a coup, led the six-hour standoff. He called on the Filipino public to protect them from "aggressors" during the height of the siege. The standoff ended at around 10 p.m. after hours of closed-door discussions between Querubin and Brigadier Gen. Nelson Allaga, the new Marine commandant. Senior Armed Forces officials tagged Querubin and Brigadier Gen. Danilo Lim, relieved commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, as leaders of a plot to lead disgruntled soldiers in ousting President Arroyo. Army Inspector General Major Gen. Ferdinand Bocobo wrapped up his investigation over a week ago on Lim, who has denied charges of hatching a coup and forming an alliance with the mutinous Magdalo soldiers. He has submitted his recommendations to Army chief Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon for review. Kison said Querubin was poised to join Lim in declaring a withdrawal of support for President Arroyo, but was the Marine brigade commander was sacked from his post. "From there, from the separate investigations (by the Marines and Army), they will try to find out if there is conspiracy, conspiracy in what happened with the Marines and conspiracy with what happened with the Army," said Kison. "If there is conspiracy, the AFP will conduct a consolidated investigation. So the Inspector General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines would discuss this, of course in coordination with the Provost Marshal General," he added. The military official said that based on the results of the investigation, Marine authorities would determine what charges would be filed against erring personnel involved in the Marine standoff.-GMANews.TV