PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — AUTHORITIES will investigate 15 to 20 people following yesterday’s takeover of a hotel by soldiers on trial for rebellion and their supporters, an official said yesterday.
National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said prosecutors were also studying the use of the anti-terror law against the suspects and their “grand scheme to bring down the government.”
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim left a court hearing their rebellion case in Makati and then briefly took over the Manila Peninsula hotel with their supporters.
They also demanded that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo step down, but they later left the hotel after government troops stormed the lobby.
“Some of [the suspects] are businessmen, but I do not want to be hasty in naming names,” Gonzales said.
“We have to be very careful because some might have just been approached for money. Some are the usual individuals and groups who have been conspiring against the government.
“But some names really came as a surprise, [though they are] “decent and not really aligned with the opposition.”
Yesterday’s incident appeared to have been premeditated following an advertisement that appeared in the Inquirer newspaper on Wednesday, which asked the people to reject the Arroyo administration.
“There exists no vision, no real production, no genuine people’s development- only self-serving assertions of a ‘strong republic’,” the ad said.
And a Web site called Sundalo Tagapagtanggol ng Pilipino (sundalo.bravehost. com) showed Trillanes, Lim and former Senator Teofisto Guingona walking toward the Manila Peninsula.
The Web site also carried a supposed statement by rebel soldiers asking Mrs. Arroyo to step down.
Prosecutors handling the rebellion case against Lim and Trillanes and their sympathizers said their action was not spontaneous but planned.
“From all indications, it is,” State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera said when asked whether the action of the accused was premeditated.
He said a few minutes before their hearing in Makati, Lim, Trillanes and his comrade, Lt./SG James Layug, were in a huddle, and that he found that unusual.
Prosecutors said the takeover of the Peninsula hotel could have been prevented had the sheriff and military escorts followed the order of the presiding judge to arrest Layug.
They said Judge Oscar Pimentel ordered Layug arrested after he bolted from his seat and approached Lim while Lim was being cross-examined.
He then barked to the people inside the courtroom not to move before he and the accused and their escorts walked out.