MANILA, DEC. 9 -- Government troops today captured renegade Col. Gregorio (Gringo) Honasan, the leader of the bloody August coup attempt who had eluded a nationwide manhunt for more than three months.

Honasan's capture appeared to mark a major victory for President Corazon Aquino, ending the single most serious threat to her government. Honasan was believed to have more than 1,000 soldiers under his command, and he had threatened in media interviews to continue trying to destabilize Aquino's administration. More than 50 people died and hundreds were injured in the coup.

The capture also seemed to remove one of the main security threats to next week's summit of the six leaders of the noncommunist Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. "That removes at least one large problem for those of us making the arrangements for a safe and successful ASEAN summit," Gen. Fidel Ramos, the armed forces chief of staff, told a news conference.

The military's inability to capture the fugitive coup leader had also posed a major embarrassment for the government, particularly since Honasan, who had become something of a folk hero, began giving interviews regularly to local and foreign reporters from safehouses around Manila.

Military officials said Honasan was captured in the Manila district of Pasig, in a house reportedly owned by a former aide to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Honasan's mentor and former boss at the Ministry of National Defense. Captured in the house with Honasan were four other renegade officers and two civilians, including newspaper columnist Cecilio T. Arillo, another former Enrile aide. The presence of the two former Enrile aides was certain to revive questions here about Enrile's role in the aborted Aug. 28 coup.

A free-lance American journalist, Charles LeVine, was also in the house when Honasan was captured but was later released, military officials said. The reporter had gone there to interview Honasan.

State-run television tonight quoted Delia Anhao, a maid at the house, telling an interviewer that Honasan was captured while hiding under a bed. Two months ago, Aquino filed a libel suit against a newspaper columnist for reporting that she hid under her bed when Honasan's troops attacked her official residence.

Officials said Honasan offered no resistance when about 50 troops stormed into the house. They said Honasan, who was in uniform, saluted and surrendered the 9-mm gun he was carrying.

{LeVine, the American journalist, reported that the leader of the raid tried to embrace Honasan. "My friend, my friend," he told the captured officer, "I am sorry to be the one to do this. But I had to."}

Aquino was "really overjoyed" at the report of Honasan's capture, according to press secretary Teodoro Benigno. "Coming as it does on the eve of the ASEAN summit, the capture should reassure all peace-loving Filipinos that the country is headed toward better times," a statement released by Aquino said.

Ramos, in the news conference, guaranteed that Honasan would be given "honorable treatment under due process of law."

Aquino has repeatedly said that Honasan would be court-martialed, and she has appeared to rule out growing demands from the military that he be given amnesty.

{Asked to comment on Honasan's capture, Enrile said, "Let the law take its course," the Chicago Tribune reported. He said, however, that he would offer legal advice to Honasan if the rebel colonel wanted it.}

Honasan, a charismatic officer who is reportedly fond of parachuting with his pet python draped around his neck, became a national hero last year when he led the group of young reformist military officers who broke with then president Ferdinand Marcos in the February 1986 "people power" revolution that brought Aquino to power.

Since then, however, Honasan has become increasingly estranged from the government that he helped install. He has accused Aquino of being "soft" in combating the communist insurgency and failing to rid the military command structure of cronyism and incompetence. He also became a forceful advocate for military grievances over low salaries, poor equipment and perceived lack of support from political leaders.

The young and dashing Honasan quickly emerged as a counterweight to Ramos, the old-fashioned cigar-chomping chief of staff who was held over from the Marcos regime. The August coup was as much directed against Ramos as against Aquino, and the feud was as much personal as political.

The mutiny, while ultimately unsuccessful, exposed the deep divisions within the armed forces unresolved since the 1986 revolution. The attempt also underscored Aquino's weak standing within the military, as many of the officers and men who sided with the government openly admitted that they agreed with Honasan's goals if not his means.

The coup attempt triggered an intense round of recrimination among political leaders over the government's failure to address the military's grievances. In the end, Aquino gave in to mounting pressure and revamped her Cabinet, dropping trusted aides considered too leftist by the military and taking a more promilitary line on issues such as the communist insurgency.

Honasan, in interviews immediately after the coup, threatened to strike again. But in later interviews, most recently with Criselda Yabes of the Reuter news agency, he appeared to strike a conciliatory tone, conceding that Aquino had taken steps to address military grievances and expressing some frustration at not having seen his wife and children since the coup.

Ramos said Honasan was allowed to meet with his family members in the office of Brig. Gen. Ramon Montano, head of the national capital region command, the force that captured the rebel colonel.