Thu, Nov 16, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Former Philippine senator arrested for coup attempt

AP , MANILA

Gregorio Honasan, former colonel and senator in the Philippines, is brought by wheelchair to a surgery ward at the National Police Hospital in Manila yesterday. Honasan suffered injuries to his feet while being chased by police who later captured him.

PHOTO: EPA

A former Philippine senator and army colonel notorious for leading most of the country's coup attempts was arrested early yesterday on charges of involvement in a February plot.

Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan, a veteran of coup attempts in the 1980s and a popular figure among many soldiers, was brought to Manila's police headquarters after he tried to elude arrest by jumping over a fence, police chief Oscar Calderon told reporters.

Honasan, 58, was being treated at a police hospital for injuries on his feet, Calderon said.

"There was resistance during the arrest, but when we already handcuffed him and he saw the futility of his resistance, he just followed us," Senior Superintendent Asher Dolina said.

He has been indicted in connection with a short-lived 2003 mutiny and is also facing another charge of coup d'etat and rebellion over a failed coup in February.

"His fingerprints are in all the coup attempts. He is the guru," Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said. "I think [his arrest] will help stabilize the country."

Calderon said the government will pay an informant a 5 million peso (US$98,000) bounty for Honasan, who had been hiding since February.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a weeklong state of emergency in February after accusing military "adventurists," communist rebels and civilian financial backers of plotting to oust her. Dozens of opposition activists are facing charges.

As a young and idealistic officer campaigning for military reform, Honasan gained fame when he led a failed 1986 plot to overthrow late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, which set off defections and triggered the "people power" revolt that toppled the strongman.

The following year, he tried and failed to topple Marcos' successor, Corazon Aquino, hiding for five months before he was caught. He escaped from a prison ship, was arrested again in 1988 and led another coup attempt in 1989. He later was granted amnesty and won a Senate seat in 1995.

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