x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Philippines coup leader Faeldon surrenders after three years

A military officer accused of leading coup attempts against the former Philippine president has surrendered after nearly three years on the run.

A military officer accused of leading coup attempts against the ex-Philippine president Gloria Arroyo has surrendered after nearly three years on the run, according to officials. Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon said he gave himself up because he believed in the government of Ms Arroyo's successor, President Benigno Aquino, who has promised sweeping anti-corruption reforms. Mr Faeldon told reporters shortly after his surrender: "There is no reason for me to stay unaccountable now. We have a new government which has the mandate of the people."

Wearing a plain white shirt and without handcuffs, Mr Faeldon claimed he did nothing against the law and said he would face outstanding charges in both military and civilian courts. He was a well-known leader of a renegade group of junior military officers called Magdalo, which was accused of carrying out three attempts to oust Ms Arroyo, who was in power for almost 10 years. Magdalo had railed against alleged corruption among senior military ranks, and in July 2003 the group took over a luxury apartment hotel in Manila's Makati financial district. The rebellion was put down without bloodshed.

Two other failed military uprisings followed, one in 2006 and then in 2007. In the attempt in 2007, detained Magdalo officers on trial in a civilian court for the first mutiny overpowered their guards, marched across the financial district and took over a five-star hotel. Dramatic footage of the insurrection showed an army tank smash into the lobby of the hotel, forcing the rebels to surrender amid a hail of bullets and tear gas.

Mr Faeldon escaped and has since been on the run, while most of his peers have already been freed after apologising or discharged from the military after serving their time in prison. Marine commandant Major-General Juancho Sabban said Faeldon would be tried in a military court. "There will be no special treatment. In fact, we have prepared the Marine brig for him," Sabban said. *AFP