Fri, Jul 25, 2003 - Page 5 News List

President tries to quash rumors of coup in Philippines

AP , MANILA

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo tried last week to quash rumors of a coup plot by disgruntled military officers, telling the public there was no cause for alarm.

She gave the assurance as Philippines shares ended lower last Thursday, hampered by a weak peso and coup jitters.

"We call on the public to remain calm amid these rumors of destabilization," Arroyo said in a statement. "The chief of staff is on top of the situation and there is no cause for alarm."

Arroyo acknowledged the existence of "legitimate grievances" by young military officers and said she already talked to their representatives, who assured her of their absolute loyalty to the military chain of command.

She said she does not blame the young officers for pushing for internal reforms and that their grievances are being addressed.

"The expression of their grievances has been proper and lawful," Arroyo said.

Local media have reported that junior officers have been meeting to discuss their gripes, including low and unequal pay among the different service branches and alleged corruption among senior military officials.

The reports also said there were "unusual troop movements," and that the military has been put on heightened alert as a result.

Officials, however, have been denying any coup plot and said the heightened alert was part of normal security.

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