Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 16:44 UK

Philippines pardons coup leaders

President Gloria Arroyo at military ceremony
President Arroyo praised the outgoing military chief for his loyalty

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has pardoned nine army officers who took part in a failed coup attempt in 2003.

The nine were part of a group that seized control of a hotel and shopping centre in July 2003 to demand that she step down.

President Arroyo made the announcement during a ceremony to install a new military chief.

She ordered a 10% pay rise for soldiers, saying she had "full confidence" in the armed forces.

About 300 officers and troops were involved in the day-long mutiny at the Oakwood complex in the Makati financial district on 27 July 2003.

The group urged the president to resign but then surrendered after a day of negotiations.

Many of the enlisted soldiers involved in the mutiny have already been freed.

The nine officers pardoned on Monday had changed their pleas to guilty earlier this year and were given jail terms - two were imprisoned for life.

The nation wants peace, order and stability, not more political shenanigans
President Gloria Arroyo

But the outgoing military chief, General Hermogenes Esperon had argued successfully that they should be freed.

He said they had shown remorse and good behaviour during nearly five years of detention.

Ms Arroyo agreed, telling the military ceremony: "The nation wants peace, order and stability, not more political shenanigans."

Under the terms of their release, the officers cannot return to the army and can be detained again if they support future uprisings.

Several other officers remain on trial over the 2003 coup attempt.

One of them is Antonio Trillanes, who in November last year walked out of court and - with other troops - briefly occupied a Manila hotel.

They surrendered after a six-hour siege when soldiers stormed the building.

President Arroyo has survived three plots by renegade officers attempting to seize power.

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