(dpa) - The Philippines' defence secretary and military chief have recommended that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo pardon nine junior army officers who were convicted of coup plotting for a failed mutiny in 2003, a statement said Sunday.
Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and armed forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon said they "have found sufficient reasons for endorsing to the president the grant of pardon" to the nine officers, two of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The other seven officers were handed down jail terms of between six years and 12 years.
"I believe it is equally important in achieving national peace to reach out to these convicted junior officers who have shown remorse for their illegal acts and expressed desire to return to the folds of law," Teodoro said in the statement.
Esperon said he believes that the nine junior officers have learned their lessons.
"I believe they have shown remorse, they have said that military adventurism is no way to achieve reforms and changes so we have drawn lessons from that, we are learning from that," he said.
On Friday, the nine convicted mutineers said they plan to seek presidential pardon and their lawyers were already preparing papers for that.
In a joint statement, the officers apologized for the failed mutiny in July 2003, when more than 300 soldiers seized a shopping complex in the financial district of Makati to demand the resignation of Arroyo and top military officers.
The convicted officers also urged their fellow soldiers to avoid intervening in politics, warning that such actions would only worsen the tense situation in the country.
"We appeal to our fellow soldiers not to emulate our actions," they said. "For not matter how noble our intentions were, what we did can never be justified. We came to realize that true changes starts from within one's own heart."
The Philippine military has been on alert against unrest among its rank amid persistent calls for Arroyo to quit over allegations of corruption and electoral fraud. Officials have repeatedly reminded soldiers not to heed politicians seeking their support.