Manila mutiny 'aide' charged

 

An ally of former Philippines president Joseph Estrada has been charged with rebellion in connection with Sunday's mutiny by 300 soldiers.

Ramon Cardenas, a member of Mr Estrada's old cabinet, is accused of allowing the soldiers to use his house before they seized control of a shopping centre in Manila's financial district for 20 hours.

He was arrested on Monday, after a raid on his house uncovered weapons, ammunition and red arm bands similar to those worn by the renegade soldiers, according to police.

President Gloria Arroyo, in a speech at the main military headquarters on Tuesday, warned of "those who still live in the dark ages of dictatorship and deception", and said they must be "crushed".

Brigadier General Victor Corpus, the military intelligence chief, said the bloodless mutiny was "only the tip of the iceberg" and that there were more troops preparing to join the mutineers had the military not thwarted the plot.

Mr Cardenas was charged as police announced they were investigating another high-profile opponent of Mrs Arroyo.

Senator Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan, who staged at least two coups against former President Corazon Aquino, said he was being made a scapegoat to distract from the claims of the mutineers.

"They are inventing charges," he told private radio network DZRH.

Mrs Arroyo has ordered two independent commissions to investigate the causes of the mutiny, which ended without violence after 20 hours.

The rebel soldiers had raised general grievances about their working conditions and accused the government of corruption and falsely staging a terrorist attack to secure overseas aid.

28/07/2003

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