MANILA, FEB. 6 -- Philippine officials today arrested two rebel ex-military officers who played key roles in coup attempts against the government of President Corazon Aquino.
Agents arrested ex-major Abraham Purugganan as he drove through Manila's financial district, and four hours later captured former lieutenant colonel Victor Batac, the chief propagandist of the underground Alliance of the People's Revolution, in a high-rise condominium.
Both participated in violent coup attempts in August 1987 and December 1989, and had been in hiding since then. Military sources say key coup plotters have been funded by wealthy civilian supporters.
Last month, two other ex-officers were captured. Some observers saw a breakdown of the plotters' military network and the weakening of their capability to launch another coup. But Brig. Gen. Carlos Tanega, chief of intelligence, cautioned that "as long as those guys are on the loose, we can't say it's completely over."
Col. Gregorio Honasan, who led the 1989 coup, is still at large.
Armed forces chief Gen. Rodolfo Biazon presented Batac and Purugganan to reporters at the military headquarters.
Batac, 41, is widely considered to be a brilliant strategist and was one of the main organizers of a military reform movement that helped depose Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.
Purugganan, 33, was a decorated combat officer who, during the December coup attempt, led the elite Scout Ranger unit to take over buildings in the center of the financial district. He escaped when the rangers surrendered. While in hiding, he formed the Young Officers' Union along with a protege of Batac.
The union split last year because of bickering and Purugganan's announcement that it was seeking ties with Communist rebels.