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Suspected coup plotter surrenders in Philippines

MANILA>> A rebel soldier accused of leading two failed coup attempts in the Philippines turned himself in to authorities after three years on the run, his lawyer and military officials said Wednesday.

Nicanor Faeldon, 44, surrendered “in recognition of the legitimacy” of newly elected President Benigno Aquino III, who won by a landslide on promises to fight poverty and corruption, said his lawyer, Trixie Angeles.

The Philippine military, one of Asia’s weakest, has struggled to modernize and retrain its troops despite funding shortfalls. Its problems have been compounded by graft and restiveness within its 120,000-member ranks.

Faeldon, a former bomb making trainer with the marines, was accused of helping lead 300 soldiers in taking over the upscale Oakwood Hotel and a nearby shopping center in Manila’s financial district of Makati in July 2003, rigging the area with bombs.

The men denounced corruption in the government of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — who stepped down last week — and within the armed forces.

Faeldon was detained along with the other suspected coup plotters and charged with taking part in a failed power grab.

In November 2007, he walked out of a Makati court trial with other rebel officers, marched across the financial district and then occupied the five-star Peninsula Hotel in an uprising that once again brought the country into political chaos.

While most of his companions were captured, Faeldon escaped. They were charged with rebellion.

Faeldon and his co-accused have said they did not plan to stage coups and were simply protesting Arroyo’s policies.

Faeldon told the ABS-CBN TV network that he was ready to face the charges against him.

“I’m ready to be put in jail for as long as it takes,” he said.

The marines confirmed Faeldon’s surrender and said they would present him to the media Thursday.

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