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Philippines Charges Senator in Mutiny - 2003-08-04


The Philippine government has filed criminal charges against a senator and six others for their alleged involvement in a failed military rebellion last week.

Interior Secretary Jose Lina filed the charges on behalf of the government against Senator Gregorio Honasan and six other civilians and military officers late Monday.

Mr. Honasan is the highest-ranking government official implicated in last week's military mutiny. The government accuses the senator of convincing more than 300 young soldiers to rebel by seizing a commercial complex. They were charged with rebellion last week.

According to government officials, the soldiers adopted his reformist campaign, called the National Recovery Program, and met with him many times.

Mr. Lina says the soldiers were waiting for support from Mr. Honasan's followers. After public support failed to materialize, the mutiny fizzled out in less than 24 hours.

The senator, a former military officer, led two coup attempts in the late 1980s, but denies involvement in the latest military rebellion. However, Mr. Honasan is avoiding arrest and since Wednesday has not attended senate meetings. In a telephone interview with Manila's GMA TV, Mr. Honasan denied he is hiding.

Interior Secretary Lina says the government is gathering evidence against other politicians and some of the soldiers' financiers.

President Gloria Arroyo says the investigation into the rebellion is now in its final stages. She says the state of rebellion in the Philippines will be lifted "soon."