GRINGO HONASAN INVOLVED IN COUP PLOT - PALACE INTELLIGENCE

MANILA, July 27, 2003 (STAR) - Ex-military coup plotter-turned opposition senator Gregorio Honasan will be charged for involvement in the coup attempt by junior officers against President Gloria Arroyo, a cabinet secretary said Sunday.

Interior Secretary Jose Lina said that "charges are being readied against the senator," adding that they would expose his alleged crimes "to the whole world."

"We have very clear and strong intelligence report that his involvement in this is deep so we are readying charges and we will prepare other legal moves," Lina said in a television interview.

Honasan, a former army colonel, popularly known as "Gringo", led several bloody coup attempts in the 1980s but was pardoned under a peace deal after which he entered politics.

Lina's accusation came after a group of about 60 junior officers and enlisted men occupied part of a sprawling shopping mall in the Philippine financial district, calling for the replacement of the government of President Gloria Arroyo.

The rogue soldiers, who Arroyo has accused of planning a coup, said they want the government replaced by a "national recovery program."

Officials commented that this sounded suspiciously like a program Honasan had been campaigning for in recent months. Honasan has said he plans to run for president in the May, 2004 elections.

Military spokesman Lieutenant General Rodolfo Garcia remarked that the rogue soldiers' plan seemed identical to "the political platform of Senator Gringo Honasan and we have received information that Senator Honasan has talked to them and he himself has said he is the adviser of these young officers".

"Hopefully Senator Honasan will come out and explain his connection to this group," Garcia said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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