MANILA, OCT. 18 (SUNDAY) -- Officials claimed they foiled a coup plot today, one day after mutiny charges were filed against 85 soldiers believed to have been involved in a failed coup attempt in August.
The latest coup attempt was reported after mutineers stole a V150 armored personnel carrier from Army headquarters. Officials immediately deployed troops and tanks around the presidential palace. No attacks occurred, and the stolen vehicle was found abandoned on the campus of the University of Santo Tomas, about one mile from President Corazon Aquino's residence.
"The president thanked the loyal forces in the military, and she was happy that there was no bloodshed," said Manila Gov. Jejomar Binay, who briefed Aquino on the incident early today.
Earlier, Binay told reporters the government had received reports of an impending coup and that renegade Lt. Col. Reynaldo Cabauatan intended to use the university as a staging area for an attack on the presidential palace.
Cabauatan has been sought since a January coup attempt and is said to have been a ringleader of the abortive July 1986 bid to install Sen. Arturo Tolentino as president.
About two dozen journalists were alerted Saturday by sources close to Cabauatan to be at a hospital near the campus by 4 a.m. today. They were told they would be taken to an undisclosed place where Cabauatan was to formalize a "tactical alliance" with the forces of Col. Gregorio Honasan, leader of the Aug. 28 coup attempt.
Instead, they watched a six-man crew drive the stolen vehicle around the campus, then abandon it. Inside the vehicle, loyal troops found a banner of the mutineer "Guardians" faction and a military cap with an inverted Philippine flag, the symbol of the Aug. 28 coup attempt.
Brig. Gen. Alexander Aguirre, capital regional commander, told reporters that troops went on alert late last night because of intelligence reports of an impending coup attempt.
Armed forces spokesman Col. Oscar Florendo said yesterday that the military is preparing for the court-martial of 68 officers and 17 enlisted men charged with participation in the Aug. 28 coup attempt, in which 55 people were killed.
He said 34 of the defendants were still at large, including Honasan, who has threatened more attacks.
Florendo said authorities were investigating more than 1,000 other soldiers to determine who should be court-martialed.