Government Announces Criminal Charges Against Enrile, Four Others
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The government on Tuesday charged Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and four others with rebellion in connection with December’s failed bid to topple President Corazon Aquino, her press secretary said.
Press Secretary Tomas Gomez said the charges were filed by a commission set up to investigate the Dec. 1-9 coup attempt.
Enrile, a former defense minister and the only opposition member in the Senate, is among Mrs. Aquino’s sharpest critics.
The commission chairman, Aurelio Trampe, told reporters at the regional court in Makati that he had gone there to file a complaint but had not done so. He refused to say who would be charged.
The five would be the first civilians charged in the coup attempt, the sixth and bloodiest attempt to unseat Mrs. Aquino since she took office in the 1986 uprising that toppled the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
Gomez said Enrile had been charged with rebellion with murder - for which there is no bail - and separately with harboring rebels.
Enrile led the February 1986 military mutiny that triggered the ″people power″ uprising Mrs. Aquino rode to power. But Mrs. Aquino fired Enrile in November 1986 after a failed coup by his followers.
During a speech Sunday marking her fourth anniversary in office, Mrs. Aquino repeatedly denounced Enrile and thanked the public for ″protecting″ her against him.
Also charged Tuesday were renegade former Lt. Col. Gregorio Honasan, Cagayan provincial Gov. Rodolfo Aguinaldo and a businessman and his wife.
″What we are witnessing today is the effective operation of our criminal justice system under a constitutional democracy,″ Gomez said. ″Crimes have been committed, criminals have been identified, and therefore, cases have to be filed.″
Staff members at Enrile’s office said the senator had no immediate comment but expected to be arrested soon.
Earlier, Enrile told a Manila radio station: ″What is happening is that everything is based on emotions, anger, persecution. They cannot threaten me with those things because my conscious is clean, my heart is pure. I did not do anything wrong. I am not afraid, even if they imprison me.″
The charges against Enrile stem from statements allegedly made by witnesses who claimed to have seen Honasan at the senator’s home on the first day of the failed coup.
Enrile has denied involvement in the putsch and claimed he had not seen Honasan since 1987.
Aguinaldo, a former lieutenant colonel, was suspended as governor for 60 days after telling a Manila radio station that he was sending tanks and artillery to the capital to support the coup attempt.
Honasan, who has been dropped from the military rolls, led the August 1987 mutiny against Mrs. Aquino and played a leading role in last December’s putsch. He was arrested in December 1987 but escaped the following April.