'THIRD FORCE' SUSPECTED BEHIND 'OPLAN GREENBASE' DOCUMENT

Manila, August 20, 2003 (STAR) By Marvin Sy  - A "third force" made up of individuals and groups opposed to a peace settlement with Muslim rebels may be behind a document purportedly outlining a secret plan by the Arroyo administration to impose martial law, a top military official told an inquiry yesterday.

Testifying before the Feliciano Commission, Lt. Gen. Rodolfo Garcia, the military’s vice chief of staff, said, however, he does not know the identities of these "people who may have another agenda as opposed" to the upcoming peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"My suspicion is that it could have come from these people," Garcia told the panel, formed by President Arroyo to investigate the July 27 failed mutiny.

"It had been scattered all over Mindanao. It’s not a secret document," he said, adding that it was "designed for propaganda."

He said Cotabato City Archbishop Orlando Quevedo had once warned about a "group of desperate people" out to torpedo the peace talks. Quevedo was not immediately available for comment.

One of these individuals "could be a politician who is anti-Muslim, who sees that peace does not work for him, whose biases against Muslims are very strong," Garcia said.

Mutinous military officers, who, along with hundreds of troops, occupied Oakwood Premier condominium in Makati City on July 27 for 22 hours claimed that they had found a document outlining a plan by the military leadership — code-named "Operation Greenbase" — to orchestrate a series of bombings in Metro Manila in a bid to extend Mrs. Arroyo’s stay in power through martial law.

"They will do this through bombings in Metro Manila which they will blame on other groups," said Capt. Gerardo Gambala, citing the recent escape of self-confessed Indonesian terrorist Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi as "essential to this operation."

They accused Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes and resigned military intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus of "masterminding" bombings against civilian targets in Mindanao in a bid to declare the MILF as a terrorist group and eventually get more US funding for Mrs. Arroyo’s anti-terror campaign.

Government officials denied such a plan and said the document was a fake. Reyes and Corpus denied the allegations.

The military had blamed the MILF in the past for a string of bombings in Mindanao, which it said was in retaliation for an offensive that captured a rebel camp.

The MILF, which has been waging a decades-long insurrection to establish an independent Islamic state in the south, denied it was involved.

Regional intelligence officials had earlier linked the MILF to Jemaah Islamiyah, said to be al-Qaeda’s ally in Southeast Asia.

The MILF earlier denied any links to terrorist groups and had renounced terrorism.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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