Philippine police arrest retired general declared interim government

Police arrested a retired Philippine army general on Thursday, a day after he declared a "revolutionary transition government" to oust President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. National police spokesman Chief Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil said 80-year-old Fortunato Abat, a former defense secretary and army commander, will be charged with sedition.

"There can be no other government except this administration. ... There can be no provisional government," Bataoil told reporters outside the office of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group where Abat was taken. Also taken into custody were former Finance Secretary Salvador Enriquez and former diplomat Roy Seneres. Enriquez said the police did not show any warrant and told them they were just being "invited" for questioning at the national police headquarters.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales said Abat and the others may also be charged with illegal assembly and an attempted coup d'etat. In a statement he read at the historic Club Filipino in suburban San Juan city on Wednesday, Abat declared "the existence of a revolutionary transition government and the formation of a transition government council to administer the affairs of government."

"This is a peaceful takeover of power by people motivated by nothing else but sense of patriotism," he said, calling on the military and police to protect the sovereign will of the people.

He said a recent "congress" of 300 delegates of his supporters nationwide mandated him to "form a government to confront this crisis that we are in now."

Arroyo, who has been haunted for months by calls for her ouster, survived an opposition attempt to impeach her in September for allegedly rigging last year's election and suspected corruption. She left Sunday for Kuala Lumpur for a Southeast Asian summit amid rumors of a coup in the Philippine capital, reports the AP. I.L.

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