Manila, July 26 (Reuters): President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered the military and police to capture up to 70 rogue junior officers and armed deserters today, following days of rumours about a brewing coup attempt.
Armed forces chief of staff Narciso Abaya met Arroyo before expressing the military’s loyalty to the country’s democratic institutions and support for the president.
Abaya said 20 army and navy officers and 40 to 50 servicemen, engaging in an “unconstitutional adventurist exercise”, were somewhere in the general area of Manila, the capital of 10 million people.
They were armed with high-powered, hand-held weapons and had “associated themselves with some groups with personal and/or political interest”, he said without elaborating.
Talk of a coup plot by junior officers angry about pay and the pace of internal reforms began earlier in the week but caused no visible sense of public anxiety .
Arroyo said today she had listened to “legitimate grievances” from some junior officers but that the renegade soldiers would be court martialled.
“The republic will exact the maximum penalty for the purveyors of mutiny or rebellion. This warning extends to unscrupulous politicians who exploit the messianic complex of these rogue officers for their naked ambition,” she said.
“I assure all that we are in full control of the situation.”