MANILA, Oct 25 (Reuters) The Philippine army has dishonourably discharged 26 soldiers who took part in a failed coup in February 2006, a military spokesman said today, adding the troops would be freed from detention this week.
Lieutenant-Colonel Ernesto Torres said the dismissed soldiers were part of a 40-member ranger unit that left their camp in the central Philippines and attempted to join a group of rogue troops preparing to grab power in the capital, Manila.
Torres said a decision to discharge them was taken a year ago, but the implementation had been delayed to allow a review.
''We found out there are no more reasons to delay the implementation of an administrative decision to discharge them dishonourably,'' he said.
Torres said 14 soldiers remained under military detention awaiting court martial proceedings.
Vicente Verdadero, a lawyer for the 26 soldiers, protested at the decision to dismiss his clients, saying there were no formal charges brought against them.
''Its a blatant violation of their human rights,'' Verdadero told reporters. ''Those soldiers were just following legitimate orders from their officers when they were asked to move out from their camps and reinforce their comrades in Manila.'' There have been over a dozen coup plots since former President Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown in 1986 and disgruntled military officers, fed up with poor pay and official corruption, have been involved in all of them.
About 80 officers and 200 enlisted men were court-martialled for a botched mutiny bid in 2003. Most of the soldiers accepted a plea bargain and have either been returned to active service or, in the case of the officers, will be dishonourably discharged.
Twenty-nine officers, considered to be the leaders of the 2003 coup bid, are still facing charges in both civilian and military courts.
All but two of the men have agreed to a deal to accept minor punishments and be discharged but it has not been finalised.
One of two officers who declined the plea bargain won a seat in the Senate in May elections, but remains in detention until his case is resolved.
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