MANILA — The military thwarted a plot by disgruntled soldiers to take American and other schoolchildren hostage and seize broadcast facilities in a coup attempt against President Corazon Aquino, officials said today.
Brig. Gen. Alexander Aguirre, chief of the capital police, said the plot, reportedly devised by soldiers loyal to ousted ruler Ferdinand E. Marcos, was only "temporarily neutralized."
Aguirre said the plot could be "completely neutralized after the (May 11 congressional) elections." Asked if the military was sure it could protect the Aquino government before the elections, Aguirre said, "I am not sure."
He said the soldiers planned to seize the International School attended by the children of Western diplomats, journalists and businessmen and hold the students hostage. Many wealthy Filipinos also send their children to the school.
TV, Radio Targeted
The state-run Philippine News Agency said the disgruntled soldiers also were plotting the seizure of two television stations and a radio station but said military officials quashed the plan over the weekend.
The plot also involved the takeover of the Manila headquarters of the national telephone company, newspapers reported.
Soldiers loyal to Marcos have mounted at least three previous attempts to overthrow Aquino since she came to power in February, 1986, in a "People Power" revolution that forced Marcos to flee the country.
Asked if the plotters had any connection with those who seized a television station for two days in January, Aguirre said all the coup attempts over the last 14 months were connected.
The soldiers would have demanded the resignation of chief of staff Gen. Fidel Ramos in exchange for the hostages, newspapers said. Ramos' wife heads the International School, located in Manila's exclusive Makati district.