The small band of primarily armed forces officers who seized a luxury hotel yesterday to demand the resignation of President Gloria Arroyo were bundled off by police after a lightning raid, but officials said others were involved.
National police chief Avelino Razon said documents found in the debris of the Peninsula Hotel, which SWAT teams stormed in a hail of gunfire and tear gas to end the stand-off, indicated “four groups” took part in the mutiny.
He declined to give details but said one of the renegade officers seen taking over the hotel had managed to get away despite an overnight curfew imposed in the Philippine capital after the rebels surrendered.
“We are looking for him,” Razon told local radio. “We don't know how he escaped.”
Meanwhile the president's national security adviser, Noberto Gonzales, said up to 20 other people who were not part of the hotel siege were under investigation, including businessmen said to have financed the rebellion.
“Some of them are businessmen but I do not want to be hasty by naming names,” Gonzales was quoted as saying in the local press.
Arroyo has faced repeated coup attempts since taking power in 2001, and many of the people involved in Thursday's mutiny had come directly from a court hearing into their involvement in a 2003 coup attempt.
Razon said some of them were the “usual suspects” from previous attempts to bring down the government in the Philippines, where the military, big business and the Catholic church all hold powerful sway over national political life.
The armed forces can make or break a president, and the leaders of yesterday's uprising — Navy Lieutenant Antonio Trillanes and Brigadier General Danilo Lim — had appealed to the rest of the military to join them.
Instead, after the rebels ignored a deadline to surrender, armoured personnel carriers smashed into the hotel lobby and elite troops poured inside, unleashing volleys of weapons fire and tear gas.
The rebels swiftly surrendered, and no one was reported injured in the raid.
“This armed undertaking had failure written all over it,” said the
Philippine Daily Inquirer, one of many newspapers that lambasted the renegades for their actions.
Despite the rebellion's failure to attract large numbers of supporters onto the streets, however, it appeared to have been well-organised.
Police did not stop the rebels on their way toward the hotel, witnesses said, and a detailed website appeared as the uprising was launched that included harsh criticisms of the state of the nation under Arroyo.
Among those found with the rebels were at least one prominent Catholic bishop as well as a former Philippine vice president and vocal Arroyo critic, Teofisto Guingona.
The Philippines has been benefitting from a strong economy of late but poverty and corruption continue to plague the Southeast Asian nation, which is made up of more than 7,000 islands.
Arroyo has been repeatedly accused of stealing her 2004 election after tapes emerged of her talking to an election commission official while the votes were being counted.
On their website, 南宁夜网.sundalo.bravehost广西桑拿,, the rebels said the president was “destroying” this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country of around 90 million people.
“The economy, the rule of law and the moral order lie in ruins,” they said.
“The entire system has broken down, thanks to a president whose legitimacy is denied by the vast majority of our people.”