Major Basilio Pooten: Doing the Right Thing, Making Us Proud

Quote of the Year: โ€œI am an officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and at the same time a lawyer. I will not allow myself to trample upon the rights of the accused gentlemen officers and be a party to the denial of their Constitutional rights. And by these, your Honors, I ask to be excused from these proceedings.โ€ — Major Basilio Pooten

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When I first read the story about Major Basilio Pooten (center) and his refusal to be used as a tool for injustice, I wondered if he is from the Cordilleras but I didn’t have the time to check it out.

Thanks to Chyt of Smorgasbord for confirming that he is indeed a kailiyan. If I am not mistaken the military lawyer is from Sagada/Besao, Mt. Province. (If he is not from Sagada, then we will claim him as our own. Ikuya yo met-a nga iBesao. uray ket ado met ti achievers yo hehe.)

We commend the good Major for doing the right thing. Kasta man nga kailiyan!

Anyway, here’s Ellen Tordesillas report on Major Pooten:

Last Friday, the officers accused of planning to withdraw support from Gloria Arroyo in February 2006 led by Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda and their lawyers walked out of the court martial hearing in Camp Capinpin, Tanay Rizal.

It was an occasion where officers and lawyers were called upon to make a stand. Many courageously responded.One man stood out: Maj. Basilio Pooten, the military defense counsel.

Read Ellen’s full account here.

And here’s a follow up report from the Inquirer:

The 28 officers linked to the alleged February 2006 coup plot saluted a military counsel for being a “warrior” and standing up for them during a tension-filled court martial hearing that had the accused walking out last week.

Marine Major Basilio Pooten refused to take over as counsel for the officers after their civilian lawyers excused themselves from the hearing. The officers eventually walked out on the proceedings in protest.

“We, Marines and Scout Rangers, salute you, Major Pooten,” the officers said in a statement. “You proved yourself to be a true Marine. Being a lawyer, you may not have been a Marine all your career life, but you surely had imbibed that warrior spirit and honor.”.

The officers also worried for Pooten, who they said might find himself “out in the cold” given the “vengeful character” of the military leadership.

But Pooten, in a phone interview, said he was merely doing his job as the military-appointed defense counsel.

He said he refused to take over from the civilian lawyers since, under the Constitution, an accused is entitled to a counsel of his choice.

“I am just doing my job as military defense counselโ€ฆI have to exhaust all legal means to protect my clients, General Miranda et al,” Pooten said, referring to former Marine commandant Major General Renato Miranda, the most senior of the accused officers.

Contrary to reports, Pooten said he did not walk out of the proceedings at Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province, where the accused officers are also detained.

The accused and their lawyers want to stop the proceedings until Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. signed the pre-trial advice (PTA), a document that recommended the filing of mutiny and other charges against the 28 officers.

Prepared by Esperon’s own staff judge advocate, the PTA reversed recommendations by a pre-trial investigation to file only lesser charges against some of the 28.

The group allegedly planned a mass withdrawal of support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on February 24, 2006, the 20th anniversary of the 1986 People Power revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship and restored democratic institutions in the country.

INFO SOURCE: Ellen Tordesillas and PDI. PHOTO SOURCE: Inquirer.

14 thoughts on “Major Basilio Pooten: Doing the Right Thing, Making Us Proud”

  1. Ading ko nga Bill,
    Taga Sagada met isuna ah, born and bred. He graduated from Santa Marya in 1972. Dad’s from Sagada, Mom from Besao.

  2. Wow, what is it in your place that breeds men of honor and courage?

    If I have a change in one of the court martial hearings, I’ll get a picture of four of them together – Maj. Pooten, Capt. Ruben Guinolbay, Capt. Dante Langkit, and Capt. Joey Fontiveros.

  3. First I thought he was from Bauko so I checked with my cousins and they also confirmed he is our townmate. But I’m sure he would want to be called “ICordilleran” to represent the whole region.
    The kind of leader we need to spearhead “Project Halsema”. Most engineers were failures, so maybe a good decent LAWYER is the answer or the JESSE we’ve been waiting for.
    Wish him more success now and in the future. Cheers to him!

  4. Maj. Pooten, Capt. Ruben Guinolbay, Capt. Dante Langkit, and Capt. Joey Fontiveros

    Hooray for these men of honour and courage!

    I salute them!

  5. Someone told me, “People from the mountains are near the “gods”. They commune with trees and talk with the birds. They humbly till their soil with their own hands. They really are people with good hearts.” Agpaysun sa piman!

    “I-share” yu man ni Major Pooten and others.
    “I-Cordilleran” kunayu tapnu mairanod kami nga IBenguets ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. ket, isu ngarud ti AFP tatta: “a few good men” (and women met ania hehe), ken saan nga “the league of extraordinary gentlemen,” ania, bill?

    sapay koma nga agsubli ti “men of honor” nga naganda idi (as the courage, integrity, loyalty motto on borromeo field exhorts).

    my take on lovelyn’s comment: mabalin koma met nga awagantayo isuda nga iPilipinas, tanomet mairanod amin nga Pilipino — uray man iCordi, dakami nga iCordi by choice and adoption (hehe), ken dagiti kakabsat ken kailiyantayo amin nga aggapo ditoy Pilipinas — ken tano haantayo makalipat nga addamet dagiti kas kenni Medal of Valor honoree Col. Ariel Querubin, iLocano (kailiyakmet daytoy! haha).

    isuda ti Knights of the Republic (mano nga sine diyayen, bill? hehe).

    my take on ellen’s comment: i’m sure that a lot of the honor and courage such men have demonstrated can be attributed to, well, hudhud hi aliguyon, among others (bill, special request — would you feature the oral histories and the warrior traditions of the Cordilleran clans sometime?)

  7. Imbag met ta adda pay ti good products from PMA, haan nga puro reject nga nateng kasla da Esperon ken Palparan who abuse the term ‘obedience’ and blindly obey the evil President Gloria…

    Otherwise, we should abolish the PMA from the Cordilleras as it keeps churning out one rotten general after another…

  8. Major Basilio Pooten is from Sagada and Besao, Mt. Province. His father was the late educator James Pooten and his mother was from Besao Proper (of the Bagano family).

    We are very proud of Mng Basilio because we know he did what he did with full understanding that he took a great risk. He exposed his military career to certain peril and knew he had nothing to gain. This lends his act a thick and strong shade of heroism.

    When faced with the same dilemma, every Igorot should take the path chosen by Maj. Basilio Pooten.

  9. Hi Anonymous,
    Ay kasjay. Schoolmate pay gayam hehe. Thanks for the info ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Ellen,
    Thanks and thanks again for blogging about him. Wow, that picture would be worth preserving ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Trublue,
    I’m sure he will be glad to be seen as a representative of the Cordilleras. Oo nga we do need a “Project Halsema” and decent people to lead our region. Thanks and cheers!

    Hi adb,
    Hooray to them indeed. We hope we have more like them in the military and in the country as a whole. Thanks.

    Hi Lovelyn,
    Hey, very nice thing you said about humbly tilling their soil. Parang ako iyon a hehe.

    Owen adi, he is also iCordillera ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Kayni,
    Yup. Hope we have more like him who stand by their principles. Thanks.

    Hi Jester,
    Hehe, you reminded me of that movie. Siguro konsolasyon kadatayo ta at least adda pay lang ti “few good men”. But then again, a few good men/women will usually beat naman the alipores and the tutas of the powers that be.

    Yup let’s also call them iPilipinas. Didn’t realize that Col. Querubin is Ilocano. Thanks for the info.

    Hi Nashman,
    Adda met piman ti saving grace ti PMA. At the rate bombs are exploding in Manila, I’m not sure na if Esperon is blindly obeying Gloria or whether it is the other way around. Thanks.

  10. Thanks Chyt for txting me about this. Manong Basilio is not a graduate of PMA but this didn’t make him a lesser military. His mom is the late Magdalena “Maggie” Bagano anak alapo ay Pacol ad Besao.

  11. Manong Basilio Pooten is not a graduate of PMA but it didn’t make him a lesser military. Being a cousin, I am really proud of him and am sure all the Cordillerans or the Filipinos I should say. Thanks Chyt for txting me about this.

  12. we also have LT DONGA-AS Banga-an National High School 1993 alumni who is part of the Magdalo leadership in 2003 at Oakwood Hotel

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