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Military Won’t Free Accused Coup Leader Despite Court Order

December 30, 1987

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The armed forces chief said Wednesday the military still plans to try a former colonel accused of leading two coup attempts and will not free him despite a court release order.

Gen. Fidel Ramos also denied allegations by retired U.S. Gen. Richard G. Stillwell that the Philippine military does not know how to fight communists. He accused Stillwell of being a fan of former Col. Gregorio ″Gringo″ Honasan, leader of a coup last summer.

Ramos told a news conference the military has jurisdiction over former Col. Rolando Abadilla even though he had been dropped from the active duty roll. Abadilla’s court martial on rebellion charges will begin soon, Ramos said.

Abadilla is accused of leading coup attempts last January and in July 1986 against the government of President Corazon Aquino. He was captured July 27 at his home in suburban Quezon City and has been held in a military prison in the capital.

Regional court judge Maximiano Asuncion ordered Abadilla freed Tuesday after he posted $7,000 bail.

Abadilla sought release to run for provincial vice governor in northern Luzon in the Jan. 18 regional elections. He is a candidate of the New Society Movement, founded by Marcos. According to Philippine law, people accused of felonies can run for public office if they have not been convicted.

Ramos said Abadilla is accused of conspiracy to commit rebellion and two weapons charges and said a military court-martial investigation was continuing.

Last January, hundreds of renegade troops stormed military and media installations in the Manila area and held a private radio-television station for 61 hours. They later surrendered.

Abadilla allegedly was a ringleader of that attempt and the July 1986 coup attempt in which followers of ousted President Ferdinand Marcos briefly seized the Manila Hotel.

″The jurisdiction of the military over Abadilla, although he is now separated from the military service and dropped from the rolls, continues due to the fact that the initial series of incidents were started by him and others accused when he was still in the military,″ Ramos said.

He noted the Supreme Court recently upheld that principle.

Meanwhile, Ramos criticized an article by Stillwell in the January edition of American Legion magazine about government efforts to contain the 19-year- old communist insurgency, saying the piece was ″one man’s or one group’s opinion.″

Stillwell claimed the Philippine military is fractionalized, has mediocre leadership, is poorly trained and is incapable of waging all-out war against the rebels.

″Gen. Stillwell, as much as we respect him, is starting to sound like a Gringo-lover more and more,″ Ramos said.

Stillwell said Honasan, who was captured earlier this month, has significant support in the Philippine military. But Ramos said 99 percent of the 159,000-strong armed forces supports Mrs. Aquino.

Stillwell was in the country days before Honasan launched the Aug. 28 coup attempt in which 53 people were killed. Stillwell has denied involvement in the aborted coup, the most serious overthrow attempt since Mrs. Aquino took power following a February 1986 civilian-military uprising.

In another development Wednesday, a six-hour firefight in South Cotabato province on Mindanao island left 10 rebels and four soldiers dead, the military said. It also reported that troops killed a regional rebel leader and his aide in eastern Samar island.

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