MANILA, AUG. 29 -- Philippine President Corazon Aquino called for the arrest of the leaders of a coup attempt today while troops loyal to her government put roadblocks on approaches to the tense capital amid fears of a new rebel attack.
The Philippines remained jittery tonight as government troops moved against remaining isolated pockets of rebel resistance in northern Luzon. The capital braced for a rumored final assault by mutinous troops who were reported to be forming again somewhere in the northern provinces.
Troops loyal to Aquino threw a cordon around Manila, using trucks to block entrances to the capital on the North Expressway and on the South Superhighway. By midnight Saturday, no attack had materialized.
The number of soldiers involved in the coup attempt is estimated at 800 to 2,000 in Manila, but it is unclear how much support the rebels had in outlying areas.
Aquino, speaking spontaneously to reporters, said of the coup plotters, "I want them arrested. It's not a question of forgiving, because this was not done against me but against the entire country. You saw how many innocent civilians were killed."
Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, the armed forces chief of staff, said more than 700 rebel soldiers had surrendered, and a Navy spokesman said most of them were being held aboard a Navy ship in Manila Bay.
In the only confirmed case of battle tonight, three government soldiers in Pampanga Province were shot and killed by 20 armed men riding in a truck at a checkpoint about half a mile from the main gate of the U.S.-leased Clark Air Base.
The base is near the Army's Camp Olivas, which was seized by rebel troops and held throughout most of the coup attempt. Many of the mutineers are believed to have retreated into the surrounding area before government troops arrived to retake control.
Officials at Clark said they were advising American residents not to venture off the base.
Despite continuing scattered resistance, political and military officials tried to make everything seem normal today, insisting that the crisis was over and that Aquino's government had actually emerged strengthened.
"There's one thing you can say about the Aquino government that you cannot say about other Third World governments, and that's its capability to withstand coups, threats and mutinies," said Teodoro Benigno, Aquino's press spokesman.
"The country is not collapsing. It is not even close to collapsing. It's moving forward. It's not a banana republic where you have a change of rulers with every crisis . . . . Cory Aquino's government remains intact, and her popularity remains intact."
Benigno said that while the rebels "never came close" to toppling the government, some officials, including Aquino, were prepared to call the civilian population out into the streets in a display of "people power" if the situation became unmanageable.
Meanwhile, government forces continued to hunt tonight for Col. Gregorio (Gringo) Honasan, the officer who led the revolt that splintered the armed forces and posed the gravest threat yet to Aquino's 18-month-old presidency.
Honasan escaped during the bombardment of Camp Aguinaldo, the armed forces headquarters that became the principal rebel holdout pocket. Some military sources speculated that he may have headed north, possibly to Cagayan Valley, which is the leading area of anti-Aquino sentiment in the country.
Honasan's escape, and the reports that some rebel soldiers who seized a key military camp in Pampanga were still at large, prompted the speculation that another rebel assault was imminent.
Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the former defense minister, tonight said he had nothing to do with the coup attempt.
Because of Honasan's role in the revolt, questions were raised about Enrile's involvement in it. Honasan was Enrile's former security chief and was dispatched to a post outside Manila when Enrile was fired in November because of an alleged coup plot by young officers loyal to him, including Honasan.
During yesterday's fighting, Enrile was not heard from and did not attend an emergency Senate session.
But tonight he was at his Manila residence, entertaining guests. He told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he spent the day of the coup attempt "here in the house" and had told his guards that he didn't want to be disturbed. He was afraid, he said, that his appearance in public would have aggravated the situation.
Estimates of casualties continued to vary, but most put the number of deaths at about 40. Most of these were civilians, many of them killed during the rebels' predawn attack on Malacanang Palace, where Aquino lives and has her office. When the attackers were repulsed, they sprayed a crowd of pro-Aquino spectators with fire from automatic weapons and grenade launchers.
"These retreating soldiers just went berserk," said Alran Bengzon, secretary of the government Peace Commission. He said some victims were hit by stray bullets while sleeping in the residential neighborhood near the palace.
Bengzon said a total of 189 civilians and 75 soldiers and police officers were wounded. He said another 21 civilians and two soldiers were admitted to area hospitals and died of their wounds.
Many of the wounded were hit by government troops who were firing wildly at times. Witnesses said government helicopters strafing a rebel redoubt at a hotel in Quezon City were so high in the air that some of their gunfire struck a restaurant several blocks away. Some Quezon City residents called a television station to say that explosive devices had fallen through their roofs and that they needed bomb disposal experts to defuse them.
President Aquino's only son, Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino III, who was grazed by a bullet across his left arm and suffered bullet or shell fragment wounds in his neck during fighting at the palace, attended a mass today for three of his bodyguards who were killed in the attack.
He told reporters that he was returning to the palace at about 2 a.m. Friday, after meeting with some top government officials in suburban Makati. When he turned onto a main road leading to the palace, he said, he saw up to 50 heavily armed soldiers.
"I assumed that perhaps these were our forces because they were deployed on the street," he said. "I introduced myself thinking they were friendly forces."
The mistake proved fatal to a bodyguard.
When Aquino, who had an automatic pistol tucked in a waistband, announced, "I'm Noynoy Aquino," some of the troops opened fire from about 15 feet away. Aquino said he and his guards chose not to return the fire because, in his words, "the only thing that would have accomplished would have been to infuriate them more." Instead, he said, one of his bodyguards covered Aquino with his own body and absorbed all of the bullets. That bodyguard died.
Aquino said he pleaded for his life when one soldier pointed an M16 automatic rifle at him and appeared ready to pull the trigger. He said the soldier walked off after taking his wallet, containing about $200 in Philippine pesos. He said the rebel troops also took wallets, watches and clothing from his dead and wounded bodyguards.
"These were not idealistic soldiers," he said.
Aquino escaped by reaching a walkie-talkie radio transmitter and calling for help. Two armored personnel carriers quickly arrived and progovernment troops got him out of danger without firing a shot, he said.
President Aquino was not told that her only son had been shot for "several hours," according to Noynoy Aquino and press secretary Benigno.
Ramos today criticized civilians -- including unnamed civilian politicians "with high-powered firearms," who he said hampered the military's efforts during the uprising by trying to be helpful by joining in the fighting.
Ramos was believed to be referring to Jejomar Benay, the governor of the Metropolitan Manila region, who showed up for action toting his own M16 automatic rifle, and Jun Simon, mayor of Quezon City, who used his own private army to knock out the transmitter of a rebel television station before the government troops arrived.