MANILA: President Gloria Arroyo said yesterday she was lifting a 16-day state of rebellion, which had allowed for arrests without warrants, as the conspiracy behind a mutiny by rogue troops had been contained.
She said the country's focus must now shift to fighting “the ever constant threat of terrorism,” especially after the escape of Indonesian militant Fathur Roman al-Ghozi from a top-security jail here nearly a month ago.
The military has said the siege on July 27 by more than 300 elite soldiers at the luxury Oakwood Hotel in Manila's business district was part of an attempt to install a 15-man junta to govern the nation of 82 million people.
Arroyo insists she will not run in elections due by May 2004, but the rest of her term will be marked by the political intrigue behind the ninth military uprising in 17 years and concerns about rumbling disquiet in the 113,000-strong armed forces.
The government, which has said the well-armed renegade troops must have had significant financial and logistical support, has been accused by some opposition politicians and other critics of using the state of rebellion to crack down on opponents.
A computer disk found at the Oakwood showed “the wide, broad and grand extent of the plan” included seizing the presidential palace, Manila's international airport and military complexes, armed forces spokesman Lt Gen Rodolfo Garcia said.
The mutineers were forced to adopt the contingency option of taking over the hotel “because the government was able to discover their plan in time,” he said on television yesterday.
Business groups – which had warned that a prolonged state of emergency would damage investor confidence already tested by corruption and concerns about violence by Muslim and communist rebels – welcomed the end of the state of rebellion.
Coup charges have been filed against 321 soldiers and rebellion charges against Ramon Cardenas, a member of former president Joseph Estrada's Cabinet. Cardenas and Estrada, who is on trial for economic plunder, have denied any involvement.
State prosecutors have also issued subpoenas to an opposition senator and six others, giving them until mid-August to contest pending coup charges.
Senator Gregorio Honasan, a former army colonel linked to coup plots in the 1980s, has made no public appearances recently but accuses the government of fabricating a case against him. – Reuters