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Philippine Government Says Coup Plot Under Control

The Philippine government says it has contained an alleged plot to overthrow President Gloria Arroyo. The announcement comes after several months of reported coup plots in the Philippines, which suffered through a political crisis last year that included an attempt to impeach the president.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales says the alleged plot had several phases, and identified the president and himself as targets for assassination. He was interviewed on the ABS-CBN television network.

"Their D-day, to start whatever they planned to do, was January 20 or 21. They mentioned about an end game, but it was not specific," he said. " Although there was a mention of sometime in March… and there were two names mentioned there… the president and me."

The military did not confirm the alleged plot details but a spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Tristan Kison, said in a radio interview that everything was under control. He added that extra security was in place, and the justice department was investigating those behind the alleged plot.

Officials say the coup plot is likely the work of fugitive soldiers accused in a 2003 mutiny, backed by retired military officers and opposition figures.

Ms. Arroyo called a meeting with top members of the military on Thursday to discuss the threat.

Rumors of unrest are common in the Philippines. There have been a dozen coup attempts in the past two decades and popular movements toppled presidents in 1986 and 2001. Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the first of those uprisings, the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

President Arroyo survived a political crisis last year that included an attempt to impeach her over allegations of vote-rigging and corruption.