MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine military has suspended or reassigned at least six junior officers suspected of recruiting soldiers for a coup attempt against the government, the armed forces chief said Friday.
The announcement by Gen. Hermogenes Esperon came a day after he said the military uncovered new attempts mostly by former officers and some active soldiers to recruit supporters for a possible coup over allegations of corruption in the government.
"We have done some moves short of arresting them, like reassigning them or putting them on hold, and continuing surveillance on them," he told reporters.
Esperon said the military's 3,000-strong National Capital Region Command was reinforced by 200 air force and 443 army troops from nearby provinces as a precaution.
Among those suspended or reassigned in the last week were junior officers and enlisted personnel, he said, without offering details.
The Philippine military has been rocked by at least two coup attempts in recent years. Junior officers demanded President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's resignation in a daylong uprising in July 2003, and last year, the president declared a weeklong state of emergency to pre-empt another alleged plot by restive soldiers to seize power.
Esperon said the latest plot was discovered after some of the junior officers and enlisted men targeted for recruitment reported the incidents to their superiors.
Esperon said no movement has been detected among military units, leading officials to believe the recruitment efforts have been unsuccessful.
He said officers detained during last year's plot may have friends among soldiers, "but whether these friendships translate into them being able to order them to join destabilization is altogether a different matter."
The military also was looking at the possible involvement of politicians who may capitalize on a scandal linking government officials and Arroyo's husband to an allegedly overpriced broadband contract with a Chinese company, he said.