Fri, Jul 21, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Investigator calls for court-martial of alleged plotters

FACING THE MUSIC Military personnel in the Philippines are being investigated over their roles in an alleged coup plot earlier this year

AFP , MANILA

A Philippine military investigator yesterday called for the court-martial of 165 soldiers and Marines, including 40 officers, for allegedly plotting a February coup attempt against Philippine President Gloria Arroyo.

The officers have all been relieved of their posts in elite military units and put under the custody of their service commanders while they undergo a pre-trial investigation leading to a court-martial, said Rear Admiral Rufino Lopez, the military's inspector-general.

Lopez did not release any names during a news conference, but did not dispute suggestions that those to be prosecuted include Major-General Renato Miranda, Brigadier General Danilo Lim and Colonel Arnel Querubin.

The officers plotted a "coup" against Arroyo, he told a news conference.

Miranda was sacked as commandant of the Marines, Querubin lost his command of a Marine brigade, and Lim was stripped of his post as commander of an elite army counter-terrorist regiment called the Scout Rangers after being implicated in an alleged left-right plot against Arroyo on Feb. 24.

Removed

"Officers and enlisted personnel found guilty of participation in any destabilization activities against the government should be removed from the military service," Lopez said.

According to government investigators, Lim taped a television broadcast to announce his "withdrawal of support" for Arroyo, who is the military's commander-in-chief.

He then supposedly would lead his men on a street march to join a planned opposition demonstration to call for her resignation.

Miranda was sacked from his post in the aftermath of the February 24 plot, supposedly for failing to prevent Marine units from taking part in the plotting.

Querubin protested that sacking by mounting a tense standoff with government forces at the Marine headquarters in Manila two days later, but he and his men eventually stood down without bloodshed.

State of emergency

The plot, which supposedly involved elements of the armed communist insurgency, prompted Arroyo to declare a week-long state of emergency. She survived an impeachment complaint in Congress last year for alleged vote-rigging.

The Arroyo government has widened its probe of the coup attempt with the justice department summoning several prominent business, church and political personalities to an investigating panel to try to find supporters.

A group of junior officers was arrested earlier this month for links to a failed 2003 military mutiny and for allegedly planning to seize control of the House of Representatives and take legislators hostage next week.

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