MANILA, SEPT. 9 -- In the wake of an aborted coup that has underscored serious rifts in the government, President Corazon Aquino's entire Cabinet submitted resignations today to give Aquino "a free hand" to reshape her embattled administration, her spokesman said.

The government has become embroiled in an intense round of bickering and recrimination, and a high-level shake-up has appeared imminent since the Aug. 28 coup attempt.

Still, the mass resignation of the Cabinet caught many observers, and even some Cabinet members, by surprise.

"When I sat down, there was a blank piece of paper in front of me," said Defense Secretary Rafael Ileto. "My neighbor {Finance Secretary Jaime Ongpin} told me we were going to tender our resignations," he said.

"It was sort of spontaneous combustion," said spokesman Teodoro Benigno, who also resigned. "Nobody motivated it, not a single group. Almost all of us thought of this idea almost at the same time."

Aquino has not officially accepted any of the resignations, although most analysts said at least some of her Cabinet aides were likely to go. Aquino has been known to delay decisions about firing her aides, many of whom are longtime family friends, even when they have developed reputations for being incompetent or antagonistic toward key constituencies, such as the military.

Benigno said the president will make her decision known soon.

If Aquino makes major changes, as expected, it will mark her third Cabinet reshuffle since coming to power in February 1986 and the second time she has had the changes forced upon her by a mass Cabinet resignation.

Following a coup attempt last November, Aquino fired then-defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and accepted the resignations of three other ministers who had been criticized by military officials as being corrupt or too far to the political left. But Aquino kept the Cabinet largely intact, and one of the fired ministers, Aquilino Pimentel, who had been in charge of local government, was given a new job as a minister without portfolio.

Many Cabinet members resigned in the spring to run for seats in the new Congress. Aquino said at the time that she expected that change to be the last, since many of the longtime politicians were replaced by experienced technocrats and business leaders.

The perception spread in recent weeks, though, that the government lacked direction and spent most of its time lurching from crisis to crisis.

On Aug. 2, a powerful Cabinet member, Local Governments Secretary Jaime Ferrer, was assassinated. Less than three weeks later, leftist-inspired general strikes against higher fuel-oil prices crippled transportation and slowed factory output in Manila and several provinces. Then, 12 days ago, a clique of young reformist military officers launched a bloody coup attempt that claimed 53 lives and, according to analysts, came close to toppling the government.

Last week, Cardinal Jaime Sin, the powerful archbishop of Manila and an ally of Aquino, repeated his accusation that corruption in the government was still widespread under the Aquino administration.

One of the 28 Cabinet-level aides most likely to be replaced is Executive Secretary Joker Arroyo, whom many here have described as a political albatross for Aquino. The military views Arroyo as a communist sympathizer because of his past role in defending communists when he was a human rights lawyer. Business leaders and some of Arroyo's colleagues in the Cabinet have criticized him as a poor administrator.

Another candidate for replacement is special counsel Teodoro Locsin, the president's speech writer.

Locsin has been criticized for his conduct during the coup attempt, when he went to the military's temporary headquarters and appeared to be trying to direct operations to quash the coup. At one point, Locsin ordered the bombing of a rebel-held television station, but the order was never carried out.

Arroyo and Locsin appeared before Congress yesterday. Arroyo held the rostrum for more than four hours, lashing out at his critics.

Some officials have sharply criticized Salvador Laurel, who is vice president and foreign secretary, for fanning discontent in the military by taking a controversial survey of military camps. As part of his survey, Laurel asked soldiers: "Should the president remove the communists in government?" Laurel was out of town today but submitted his resignation as foreign secretary by telephone, officials said. He did not resign as vice president, which is an elective office.

Other aides of Aquino who have come under pressure in recent weeks are Finance Minister Ongpin and Central Bank governor Jose Fernandez Jr., who have been criticized by congressional leaders for signing a debt restructuring arrangement with the country's foreign creditors that many find onerous. Aquino, in her state-of-the-nation message in July, criticized that restructuring package as not giving the Philippines repayment terms as favorable as those of Mexico and Argentina.

After every coup attempt, Aquino has come under pressure to replace the armed forces chief of staff, Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, who has become the target of criticism from some quarters in the military.

Ramos, who says he serves at the pleasure of the president, did not offer his resignation. Military analysts said Aquino was unlikely to replace him, because to do so now would appear to be heeding the rebel troops' demands. Ramos has demonstrated his loyalty to civilian rule by crushing at least five coup attempts and defusing several others. In addition, analysts said, there is no acknowledged front-runner who could replace Ramos and successfully balance the various factions within the military.