MANILA — The United States today withdrew a controversial military attache from its embassy in an apparent attempt to defuse a row over alleged U.S. meddling in a Philippine coup attempt.
A U.S. Embassy statement said the assistant Army attache, Lt. Col. Victor Raphael, will depart this week. Praising the colonel's record, the statement said the action was no reflection on his performance and added that "the charges aired against him publicly are unfair and unwarranted."
A Philippine army colonel said last week that Raphael, a personal friend of Col. Gregorio (Gringo) Honasan, leader of the Aug. 28 coup attempt, had tried to stop government forces from attacking rebel troops during the uprising against President Corazon Aquino's government.
On Tuesday, Washington and Manila appeared to be backing away from a serious row after U.S. Under Secretary of State Michael H. Armacost met with Aquino for 40 minutes and stressed his government's continuing support for her.
Honasan, who remains at large, was interviewed at a hideout in Manila on Tuesday and said Raphael was his daughter's godfather, adding, "If they want to make an issue out of that, it means . . . I cannot have friends with somebody who happens to be American."