The fugitive leader of an August coup attempt promised to stage new attacks on the government, but President Corazon Aquino said Wednesday mutineers lacked enough support to oust her.
A statement attributed to former Lt. Col. Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan said his group promised last November to cease hostile acts against Aquino to give her time to fulfill promises to improve the government. Aquino made the promises after Honasan's the Aug. 28 coup attempt."We are now withdrawing that declaration," said the statement from Honasan, 39. "It has become obvious by its own actions that the Aquino administration is incapable of ensuring the very survival of this nation over the next few years. We have to act and act boldly."
The statement was distributed Wednesday to news organizations. Honasan escaped Saturday from a prison ship in Manila Bay, where he had been held since his arrest Dec. 9. Military spokesman Col. Oscar Florendo said troops had found no trace of Honasan despite a nationwide search.
Aquino told reporters Wednesday her government had taken steps to correct problems raised by Honasan during his abortive coup attempt, in which at least 53 people were killed and hundreds wounded.
"I think he will have to admit that the government had adequately answered already the legitimate grievances, and I think the Filipino people definitely will go against Honasan," Aquino said. "He will not be able to get any support."
Honasan's complaints included low military pay and lack of an effective strategy against communist rebels. The coup attempt was the most serious of six major bids to topple Aquino since she took office on Feb. 25, 1986.
Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos described the Honasan statement as "a call to violence" and said the author "must have a distorted sense of values." Ramos said he had ordered the military to verify its authenticity.