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Written by: Staff

MANILA, Apr 5 (Reuters) The Philippine army said today it had captured a soldier linked to a plan to oust President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in February but the alleged mastermind behind the plot remained at large.

The army said Captain Dante Langkit, who had been on the run since January, had initiated meetings with communist guerrillas and had recruited some soldiers to take part in a plot to oust Arroyo in February and establish a military-civilian junta.

Langkit was captured on Sunday with several seditious documents, thousands of pesos worth of prepaid mobile phone cards, nine mobiles and about 81,300 pesos (about $1,600) in cash, the army said.

Gregorio ''Gringo'' Honasan, a former Philippine colonel and senator accused of leading the coup plot, was still at large despite a five million peso reward for information on his whereabouts.

Honasan, implicated in most of the country's more than one dozen coup attempts since the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, has been in hiding since February 23. He is already facing rebellion charges for a failed mutiny in 2003.

The army said Langkit was also involved in the 2003 mutiny in which about 300 junior officers seized a luxury apartment tower in Manila's Makati business district and demanded that Arroyo step down over allegations of corruption.

The mutiny was put down in less than 24 hours. The mutineers, under a group called Magdalo, are now detained and on trial.

The army said Langkit disappeared after four Magdalo soldiers escaped from a military camp in January. He later linked up with the four escapees and recruited officers to join their cause.

One of the four Magdalo soldiers, Lieutenant Lawrence San Juan, was recaptured in February and has been charged for his role in the latest alleged coup plot.

Langkit was supposed to attack and take over the headquarters of the Philippine army earlier this year under his ''Oplan Gemstone,'' presented to recruited officers, the army said.

After the discovery of the alleged coup plot, Arroyo declared a week of emergency rule ending on March 3 and security forces cracked down on people suspected of being part of the plan, including one retired general and six leftist lawmakers.

Five of the leftwing politicians have been holed up in the congress building for five weeks to avoid arrest.

The army has also recommended 20 soldiers face a court-martial, including the former commander of the elite Scout Ranger regiment, for their roles in the foiled conspiracy.

Reuters CH RS1545

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