The Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Arturo Lomibao said Tuesday that some elite police and military forces plotted to occupy by force the PNP headquarters in Quezon City in mid-February and take him hostage in a coup to topple President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
In a speech to members of the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) Tuesday evening, Lomibao said that people involved in the coup plot were Police Special Action Force (SAF), the Marines, and the Army Scout Rangers.
"The moves of disgruntled officers were coming to a head. The Marines, Scout Rangers, the Philippine National Police Special Action Force were being harnessed to withdraw their support from duly-constituted authorities," he said.
Lomibao also supported the military's claim that the troops involved in the plot have set up an alliance with leftist and rightist militant groups to oust Arroyo.
"There was enough basis to recommend the declaration of a state of emergency," he said.
Lomibao said he began receiving intelligence reports as early as in December on the recruitment of troops by opposition forces for staging a coup.
On Jan. 14, the SAF planned to seize Camp Crame police headquarters and take him hostage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Lomibao said.
"This was agreed at a meeting in one of the Armed Forces of the Philippines housing units in Fort Bonifacio on Jan. 7, attended by some officers of the Marines, the Scout Rangers and the Special Action Force," he said.
After that plan failed, the rebellious troops planned to carry it out again from Feb. 18 to 19, before a mass rally against Arroyo to be held by the opposition on Feb. 24 at the EDSA thoroughfare in Metro Manila.
On Monday last week, Lomibao announced that former SAF commander Chief Superintendent Marcelino Franco and 3 of his men were restricted to quarters and placed under investigation for alleged involvement in the plot. Franco was released on Friday, after the plot to topple the government was foiled.
The commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, Brigadier General Danilo Lim, was also sacked last week and is detained at Fort Bonifacio military barracks in Taguig City east to Manila.
The military Tuesday also sacked Marine officer Colonel Ariel Querubin for organizing a protest against the government Sunday night at the Marine headquarters at Bonifacio. He is being investigated for suspected involvement in the coup plot.
Authorized by the Proclamation No. 1017 decree declaring a state of national emergency signed Friday by Arroyo, the PNP has so far arrested without warrant 2 leftwing House Representatives and filed rebellion charges against 14 other people.
The PNP has also raided the office of a hardline opposition newspaper in Manila.