Ex – general charged with inciting to sedition in Philippines

An 80-year-old retired general and several others who declared a "revolutionary transition government" to oust Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were charged Friday with inciting to sedition. Filing the case in court, Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco said Ret. Gen. Fortunato Abat, a former defense secretary, was charged along with former Finance Secretary Salvador Enriquez, former diplomat Roy Seneres, lawyer Carlos Serapio and others identified only as "Jane and John Does."

The accused, who were arrested Thursday, immediately posted bail of 12,000 pesos (US$220; Ђ185) each and were released from custody. "The words uttered by the respondents as well as the messages stated in their streamers (banners displayed in public) ... were conducive to the destruction of the government itself," the prosecutors' statement to the court said.

Abat's group did not commit violence, but its statements were aimed at persuading people to go against the government, Velasco said. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez had earlier noted that while Abat and his group could be dismissed as a nuisance, officials had to take them seriously at a time of swirling coup rumors.

Abat had already faced a complaint for inciting to sedition, filed in June by two lawyers. The case is still in the preliminary investigation stage. In a statement Wednesday, Abat declared "the existence of a revolutionary transition government and the formation of a transition government council to administer the affairs of government."

"This is a peaceful takeover of power by people motivated by nothing else but sense of patriotism," he said, urging the military and police to protect the people's sovereign will.

He said a recent "congress" of 300 delegates of his supporters nationwide mandated him to "form a government to confront this crisis that we are in now."

Army commander Lt. Gen. Hermogenes Esperon on Wednesday ordered the retired general's son, Col. Victor Abat, relieved as deputy commander of the 702nd Brigade in northern Nueva Ecija province for allegedly "enjoining others to join destabilization" via phone text messages.

Abat's son-in-law, police Gen. Jaime Caringal, has denied allegations that he was to have been involved in a coup plot, saying he continues to support the chain of command, reports the AP. I.L.

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