The Peace Corps, fearful that communist guerrillas may be plotting to harm some of its 261 volunteers in the Philippines, announced yesterday it is withdrawing them from the country.

It was the second time this year that the 30-year-old organization has recalled workers overseas. In April, 130 volunteers were recalled from Liberia after fighting there endangered them.

The decision concerning the Philippines came several weeks after rebels reportedly kidnapped a Japanese aid worker on one of the islands and after what a State Department official described as a "specific threat" against the Americans.

Peace Corps Director Paul Coverdell said in a statement that the threat came from "the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines," the New People's Army (NPA), which has waged a 21-year guerrilla war against the Manila government. The NPA is believed responsible for the abduction of the Japanese worker and is reported to have killed 10 Americans in the Philippines in the past three years.

The State Department last month warned that the rebels had threatened to increase attacks against Americans as part of their effort to force U.S. military bases out of the country. It cautioned Americans not to travel outside major urban areas.

Officials declined to be more specific about the nature of the threat against the Peace Corps workers. "We have intelligence that we took seriously and obviously deem to be credible, and we took action on that," said State Department spokesman Margaret Tutwiler.

All the Peace Corps volunteers were reported safe yesterday and Coverdell said they will be flown today to Hawaii, where they will be given new assignments or returned home.

Coverdell, who has made a priority of expanding the Peace Corps into Eastern Europe, said the suspension of the Philippine program was "strictly a precautionary measure." He held out hope that the volunteers would return soon. "This program is too valuable . . . to leave it in a state of suspension for any longer than is absolutely necessary," he said.

In Manila, officials of the government of President Corazon Aquino described as prudent an earlier decision to withdraw the Americans into the capital from the rural countryside where most were assigned, and rejected suggestions the move to withdraw altogether indicated danger to the government.

"It's not a reflection on the government. It's more an act of prudence on their {the Peace Corps'} part," presidential spokesman Tomas Gomez said. "If they perceive that there may be danger, then it's natural they would want to get out."

Aquino's executive secretary, Catalino Macaraig, was quoted as telling Reuter: "We cannot protect all foreigners."

In Washington, Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asian and Pacific affairs, said the NPA threats were "an act of desperation" because it has failed to gain widespread support for its rebellion. Solarz said Coverdell's decision to suspend the program was "appropriate."

The Philippines was one of the first countries to receive Peace Corps volunteers and since 1961 a total of 7,500 Americans have served there. Coverdell described it as "one of the Peace Corps' oldest and most successful programs."

He said Aquino will thank the volunteers in a Manila ceremony before their departure.