Monday, July 24, 2006

Aquino Pleads Guilty: Obliging My Readers.

I just took a look at visitor stats and noticed a number of Googlers landing here looking for information on Michael Ray Aquino's guilty plea.

Well, I do a little googling and this is what turns up:
Former police senior superintendent Michael Ray Aquino on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) entered a guilty plea to the charge of unauthorized possession of classified US government documents, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau reported.

Aquino entered the plea during the hearing before US District Court Judge William Walls.
Aquino, 40, said he received classified US government documents from Filipino American Leandro Aragoncillo from January to September 2005. At that time, Aragoncillo, a former US marine, was working at an Army base in New Jersey as intelligence analyst for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Aquino is now an admitted spy, who cultivated and used Aragoncillo, a willing accomplice, to transfer US intelligence secrets abroad," said US Attorney Christopher J. Christie.

"He (Aquino) did this at the behest of a high-level government official in the Philippine legislature. [emphasis added] We view that as a grave intrusion on the integrity of our national security, and we will seek the longest prison sentence possible for Aquino," he added.
Source: ABS-CBN Interactive - Michael Ray Aquino pleads guilty in US spy case

Hmmm. It is well documented (and admitted to by) Erap (aka former & deposed President Joseph Estrada) that he received the information obtained by Aragoncillo & Aquino. According to this report another Filipino official has admitted to receiving the intelligence:
The recipients included former President Joseph Estrada, who was ousted five years ago; Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the leader of the Arroyo opposition party; and former House Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella. [emphasis added]

Estrada and Lacson have acknowledged receiving information from Aquino or Aragoncillo, but deny any wrongdoing.

Berman said all Aquino was asked to do was introduce Aragoncillo to Lacson, which he did via e-mail. Afterward, Aragoncillo started sending him documents he had pilfered from government files, the attorney said.

Aquino was once a senior officer under Lacson in the Philippines National Police.
Source: MSNBC - Filipino pleads guilty to having U.S. secrets (AP)

Senator Lacson is frequently mentioned as being a possible replacement for President Arroyo.

Okay, now what? Will our government (i.e. the USA government) press charges against these leaders who were the recipients of the material? This could mean an extradition request and possible extradition. It would certainly free PGMA of some pesky people, but does she have the political support to allow it? I think not, it has been a number of years that she managed to oust Erap and it appears there is no real serious effort to try him for the plunder charges that were the pre-text for ousting him. Why would anyone think PGMA could muster the support to allow (or to see it through) the extradition of these leaders. We shall see.