Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Philippines air force chief warns troops against coup plots

MANILA (AFP) — Air force chief Pedrito Cadungog on Wednesday warned troops against joining any new plot to topple Philippines President Gloria Arroyo -- citing his own role in past coup attempts.

"I have been there, done that. I have been a witness. We failed and we should take the lessons of our past actions," Lieutenant-General Cadungog told reporters as he recounted his warnings to his unit.

He said he was once a member of a military faction that took part in the popular revolt that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Cadungog also said he was part of one failed bloody coup attempt in 1987 but he did not elaborate.

Most of the officers in the 1980s coup plots had charges dropped against them after reaching a settlement with government.

But he defiantly warned future coup plotters that they would have to go past him if they wanted to mount another coup.

"If you will not kill me, I will kill you," he said.

Arroyo has put down two attempted military mutinies in 2003 and 2006 by junior officers.

One of these officers, ex-navy lieutenant Antonio Trillanes, was elected to the Senate last year after campaigning from detention.

Some of these mutinous officers remain at large and the government believes they plan to exploit renewed anger against Arroyo over new allegations that her husband and a political ally were involved in a massive corruption scandal.

Cadungog however dismissed such groups.

"Now there are military officers claiming to be idealistic. I can say, they are not and they can go to hell."

He also warned the plotters that "what usually happens is bloodshed."

Opposition forces are planning street protests Friday to press their call for Arroyo's ouster. Communist insurgents and rebel soldiers have also endorsed stronger actions against the Arroyo government.

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