Arroyo warns of more coup danger

MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo says she was aware of plans for last weekend's attempted coup and warned that though the mutiny failed, the Philippines was not yet out of danger.

In an interview with CNN's Maria Ressa, Arroyo said she forewarned security forces and civic leaders about what she called a coup attempt, even telling them exactly when the rebellion would take place.

The president described the plan as a "grab for power" with an overall goal to topple her government.

"I already knew that they were determined to do it," Arroyo told CNN.

When asked why she didn't detain them at that time, Arroyo said, "Because we're a democratic country. You remember that movie 'Minority Report,' where they arrest them before they do it? That's not the way a democracy works. You have to have an overt act."

Arroyo said her government was gathering evidence against what she called "civilian plotters" who organized the mutiny attempt by 300 rebellious soldiers.

But she said the mutiny was only part of a broader plot against her government.

During the 21-hour standoff, which ended on Sunday, the rogue soldiers rigged explosives in Manila's downtown area and barricaded themselves into a hotel and shopping complex.

They accused Arroyo's government of arming rebel groups and abetting a Muslim insurgency in the south of the country so the president could extend her term in office.

Though the mutiny attempt ended peacefully with the soldiers returning to base, Manila is still reeling from the event's aftershocks amid fears of more plots to undermine the Arroyo administration.

"It is true that the plot is far from over, but it is being contained and will soon be completely under control," Arroyo said in a statement on Thursday.

"There are plotters, operators, financiers and backers both in and out of government, who are still in the cold. We will expose them and bring them to justice."

On Wednesday, of the Philippine army's intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus resigned with a warning that deep resentment still lingered in the armed forces.

Arroyo on Thursday claimed her government was in full control and she said she was confident of the loyalty and the stability of her armed forces.

The disgruntled soldiers claimed Corpus had led special operations teams to stage bomb attacks in the south to get more funding from the United States, and demanded he be kicked out of the military.

While Corpus denied the allegations in a letter dated July 29, saying they were "without basis," he offered to resign as intelligence chief and retire from the armed forces.

Philippines authorities have also charged a former aide to ousted president Joseph Estrada for his role in the mutiny attempt.

They say Ramon Cardenas allowed a home he owned to be used as a staging point for the uprising.

The government says it's preparing charges against another Estrada ally, Senator Gregorio Honasan, who led the most violent coup attempts against former President Corazon Aquino in the late 1980's.

Both men say they are innocent.

Arroyo has vowed to punish those involved in the mutiny attempt with "the full force of the law."

But she told CNN she would address some of the legitimate grievances brought up by the renegade soldiers, like low pay, housing, insurance and corruption.

The president has also set up two independent commissions to look into the complaints as well as allegations that Corpus and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes staged bombings in the nation's south.

The two men have denied the claim.

-- CNN Correspondent Maria Ressa contributed to this report.



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