The Pentagon acknowledged today that through “an administrative error,” it had invited a high-ranking Philippine officer who has been implicated in the assassination of opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr. to a retirement ceremony for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Army Gen. John W. Vessey, who has led the chiefs for the last three years, is scheduled to retire on Sept. 30 in a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. His counterparts from allied countries around the world have been invited to attend.
Lt. Col. Ed Robertson, a spokesman for Vessey, confirmed reports in two Manila newspapers today that Gen. Fabian C. Ver had received an invitation to the event, even though he is currently on leave from his post as chief of the Philippine armed forces.
“We had an administrative error in the office of the chairman,” Robertson said. “Gen. Ver was invited, but the invitation should have gone to Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, who is the acting chief of staff.
“We have already informed the Philippine Embassy that the error was made and asked them to deliver the invitation to Gen. Ramos. We have withdrawn the invitation to Gen. Ver. Our intent was to invite the counterparts, and we simply made a mistake.”