MALACANANG has nothing to do with the provisional liberty granted to detained Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin, a Palace official said Wednesday.

In a press briefing, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda noted that the move was a sole decision of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Ricardo David and no intervention from the Palace was ever made.

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“As we all know the chief of staff has the discretion to grant provisional liberty to any detained prisoner,” Lacierda said.

He recalled that former AFP chief Delfin Bangit also granted temporary freedom to former Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim, who also led the coup plot in February 2006.

“I understand that the chief of staff consulted the judge advocate general lawyer and from that consultation with the military lawyers they decided to grant provisional liberty to Colonel Querubin,” he said.

Wheels of justice

Meanwhile, Querubin believed that his provisional freedom signaled that the wheels of justice under the new government finally started rolling.

In an interview with reporters, Querubin said he welcomed the move of the military establishment. "It’s a step closer to the justice that we are all wanting."

Querubin said he was summoned by David at his office last Thursday to discuss a number of things, including the provisional liberty that would be given to him.

"We talked at his office, he summoned me. We talked and for the first time after four and a half years, I had this sense of belongingness to the Armed Forces because I saw their sincerity to help us," he reiterated.

Upon his release, he immediately fulfilled his promise to start his duty as a father by proceeding to Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City to fetch his children.

The former military officer is facing a mutiny charge before the military’s General Court Martial No. 2 in connection with the February 2006 plot to overthrow the Arroyo government.

AFP spokesman Brigadier General Jose Mabanta said the temporary liberty of Querubin, a recipient of the highest military decoration Medal of Valor, was approved Tuesday night.

Querubin was deemed retired from the military service after he ran but lost for senator in the May 10 elections.

He was detained at Camp Aguinaldo, facing trial before a military tribunal for a charge of mutiny in connection with his group’s plot to march and subsequently withdraw their support from Arroyo in February 2006.

"He will be placed under the custodial care of a senior officer, in this case he will be under the custody of General Reynaldo Ordonez," said Mabanta.

Ordonez, the head of the AFP Philippine Defense Reform office, is the same officer to whom former Scout Ranger chief Brigadier General Danilo Lim, another leader of the plot, was placed under custody last May 31.

More than a week later, Bangit also allowed provisional liberty to nine Scout Ranger officers also linked to the plot.

Mabanta said Querubin was allowed provisional liberty on the condition that he would attend the ongoing court martial hearings against him in connection with the February 2006 incident.

Welcome development

For her part, former Akbayan party-list representative Etta Rosales said she was elated over the provisional liberty given to Querubin.

"I am happy for that. Colonel Querubin is a highly medaled officer who has distinguished himself in the military service. His standoff was a consequence of military protest to a corrupt government," she told Sun.Star.

Rosales was reportedly the choice of President Benigno Aquino III to head the Commission of Human Rights amid opposition from other leftist groups. (Jill Beltran/VR/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)