Thu, Jul 31, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Manila army intelligence chief quits

MUTINY FALLOUT Although he denied claims by the rebellious troops that he was involved in an attack, Victor Corpus said it would be better for him to step down


The Philippine army intelligence chief resigned yesterday following a failed mutiny by junior officers and soldiers demanding military reforms, the president said.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo accepted the resignation of Brigadier General Victor Corpus, who said he quit to ease restiveness among soldiers following Sunday's bloodless uprising.

About 300 soldiers and officers who took over a ritzy commercial and shopping complex in Manila's financial district had demanded Corpus' resignation. They accused him of incompetence and involvement in a recent deadly bombing to justify more military aid from Washington.

The mutineers, being detained and interrogated at military intelligence headquarters, also demanded Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes and National Police chief General Hermogenes Ebdane resign.

"The current political crisis is far from finished. There is still deep restiveness in the officers' corps," Corpus wrote to Arroyo.

The mutineers claimed Corpus was in the southern city of Davao when a bomb exploded in a crowded wharf, killing 16 people in April. They said Corpus was either involved or so incompetent he failed to detect and foil the attack.

"In chess, when a queen is beleaguered, it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice a knight to save the game. I feel that the restiveness will not calm down with my continued presence," Corpus said.

Corpus, a former communist guerrilla leader, became the first military official to step down following Sunday's drama.

Authorities on Tuesday charged with rebellion Ramon Cardenas, a close ally of disgraced ex-president Joseph Estrada, for allegedly aiding young disaffected military officers who led the brazen uprising.

She also promised to bring "unity and reconciliation with justice" within the military and named an independent commission to investigate the mutiny. It will be headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano.

Police also are investigating another high-profile Arroyo opponent, Senator Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan, who staged at least two of the attempted coups that plagued then-president Corazon Aquino after the 1986 "people power" revolt toppled late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Honasan has denied involvement.

Although a semblance of normalcy has returned to the Philippines, Arroyo is yet to rescind her weekend state of rebellion declaration that gives authorities power of arrest without warrants. Security forces also remained on high alert.

Chief of Staff General Narciso Abaya said the military was trying to determine if there were other mutineers who may have escaped, or sympathetic groups of soldiers who could still sow trouble.

Also see story:

Rebellious troops continue to haunt Philippine politics

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