Government Report Says Conspirators Discussed Killing Americans
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Conspirators in plots leading to last week’s bloody coup attempt discussed killing Americans and burning CIA headquarters in Manila, the government said Wednesday.
A general who commanded the army under deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos was involved in plotting a military takeover, said the report, prepared by President Corazon Aquino’s security force and released by the Presidential Palace.
A congresswoman related to Mrs. Aquino urged her entire Cabinet to resign to give the president a free hand in coping with the crisis triggered by Friday’s mutiny, the bloodiest of her 18-month administration.
Rep. Tessie Aquino-Oreta, the president’s sister-in-law, said in a speech Wednesday evening to the House of Representatives that key administration advisers apparently bungled the crisis by inteferring with military commanders trying to quell the uprising.
Mrs. Aquino, in a national broadcast Wednesday, said 53 people were killed in Friday’s coup attempt, including 12 loyal soldiers, 19 rebel troops and 22 civilians. Hundreds were wounded, including her son, Benigno Aquino III.
Col. Gregorio ″Gringo″ Honasan, who led the coup attempt, remained at large, and the military intensified air and ground searches for him in Manila and north and east of the capital.
The ″after battle″ report said Marcos loyalists met July 14 at a Manila restaurant to discuss ″CIA support for destabilization,″ bombing campaigns, the assassination of three unidentified Americans and ″burning of CIA headquarters.″ It did not elaborate.
It named Maj. Gen. Josephus Ramas, former army commander, as being involved in plotting a military takeover. Mrs. Aquino fired Ramas after taking power in a February 1986 civilian-military uprising that ousted Marcos, who fled to Hawaii.
The report said intelligence agents learned that Ramas and Honasan planned a ″blitzkrieg attack″ last June, but it was postponed.
The charges about killing Americans and the CIA were in the background part of the report, and it was unclear whether all the alleged plots were part of the same conspiracy and why other plots were postponed.
Maj. Gen. Eduardo Ermita, deputy chief of staff, declined comment and said he was unaware of the report.
Mrs. Aquino said 50 officers and 1,300 enlisted men took part in the revolt, but did not say if that included those who joined in Cebu City, San Fernando and southeastern Luzon. She said 1,033 mutineers were in custody.
The mutineers ″turned their backs on their duties and pursued their own goals,″ Mrs. Aquino concluded, switching from English to Tagalog, a Malayan dialect spoken in the Philippines. ″They ignored the lives of our brothers because all they wanted was to kill me and run our government.
″I grieve for the dead on both sides,″ she said. ″When I ordered the attack I knew that there would be violence. But it was necessary because I had to prevent greater violence.″
Honasan led attacks Friday on the presidential palace, broadcast stations and key military installations, including armed forces headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo.
The rebels said they were acting because of the government’s handling of the Communist insurgency, its move to give some autonomy to Moslem rebels in the south and mountain tribesmen in the north, and because of generally poor conditions in the military.
Even Mrs. Aquino’s generals have pressed her to give the military more say in national policy and to address the military’s needs.
On Tuesday, armed forces chief of staff Gen. Fidel Ramos demanded the immediate convocation of the National Security Council, the joint military- civilian policy-making committee that Mrs. Aquino has never convened.
Military sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said they believe the president’s civilian advisers do not want the council convened because it would give the military more say in national policy and because of bitter memories of the 1972-81 martial law under Marcos.
But Mrs. Aquino called top military officials to Wednesday’s weekly Cabinet meeting to discuss the mutiny. Her spokesman, Teodoro Benigno, said the discussions were ″spirited, candid and sometimes blunt.″ He gave no details.
Ramos told reporters later the Cabinet agreed to sponsor urgent legislation to improve soldiers’ pay and, if necessary, divert funds from other projects to improve military capabilities.
Benigno said Mrs. Aquino would meet later with Congressional leaders and senior officials to discuss the coup and ways to improve conditions in the 150,000-member armed forces.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Dominico Casas, commander of the 220th Airlift Wing in Cebu City, was relieved of his command Wednesday for allegedly supporting Friday’s mutiny.
Earlier this week, the military said the Cebu area constabulary commander, Brig. Gen. Edgardo Abenina, and the deputy Air Force commander in Manila, Brig. Gen. Federico Pasion Jr., were being investigated for involvement in the revolt.