Arroyo government accused of singling out weaker opponents The government has been accused of selectively targeting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's critics as a way of cowing opposition, while avoiding a direct challenge to powerful critics. Prominent personalities, including former president Corazon Aquino and her brother, former congressman Jose 'Peping' Cojuangco, have been left off a lengthy police complaint listing suspected rebels following a failed coup in February. Only the less prominent have been charged so far, including Francisco Nemenzo, former president of the nation's top state university. 'I think the purpose here is to scare us into silence,' Dr Nemenzo said. The list of suspected rebels runs to more than 50 names of mostly active and retired military and police personnel who are already facing administrative sanctions and court martial proceedings. The rest are civilians and leaders of left-wing groups. The nine-page complaint filed by the police before the Department of Justice on October 13 accuses those named of conspiring to overthrow Mrs Arroyo on February 24 and 26 this year through a people-backed 'withdrawal of support' by the military. Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, whose office has the task of finding 'probable cause' before filing the case in court, denied that the list was a tool for intimidation. 'We do not have to threaten or intimidate people. We just charge them if there is evidence,' he said. As to why the government has not charged any of the 20 'prominent' businessmen and bishops that Mr Gonzalez announced three months ago were under tight monitoring for their alleged role in the conspiracy, he said: 'We are not yet through with the investigation.' 'I cannot give you a specific time frame' for filing charges, he said. 'But it will be sooner [rather] than later'. Last July, among the businessmen whom government investigators interviewed, were San Miguel Corporation board director Inigo Zobel, television network owner Antonio Cojuangco and construction magnate Felipe Cruz Jnr. A source involved in the rebellion case doubted the government would make good on its threat to indict prominent businessmen because 'they are afraid of the repercussions particularly on foreign investments'. Mr Gonzalez denied this and insisted that the delay did not mean the government lacked evidence. 'You know when you gather evidence you also have to evaluate [it]. You must cross-check the documents and the statements of people,' he said. Earlier police reports also noted that Ayala Corporation chief executive Jaime Augusto Zobel met Mrs Aquino before the planned withdrawal of support by members of elite military and police units on February 24. The renegade forces had planned to join Mrs Aquino's peaceful march to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1986 'people power' revolution. Mr Zobel was also not charged. Mr Gonzalez said Mrs Aquino would definitely not be charged because 'not everybody who was in the rally was necessarily going to be indicted'. The police complaint merely noted that Mrs Aquino had responded to Colonel Ariel Querubin's call for 'people power', aired during the standoff by marines outside their headquarters on February 26. As for charging Mrs Aquino's younger brother, Mr Cojuangco, Mr Gonzales replied: 'I told you already that our investigation is still not complete. There may be people added here where there are John Does mentioned.' But according to Mr Nemenzo, he was shown the original draft of the police complaint and this included Mr Cojuangco, a bishop and two senators. 'Then in the final report, they eliminated the bishop, [Senator Panfilo] Lacson, [Senator Rodolfo] Biazon and [Jose] 'Peping' Cojuangco,' Mr Nemenzo said. He also alleged that the government showed an uneven hand in indicting suspects. Both Mr Cojuangco and Renato Constantino, leader of the left-wing Sanlakas, had allowed their homes to be used as meeting places for plotters. But only Mr Constantino was charged, Mr Nemenzo said. But Mr Gonzalez maintained that the two incidents were actually different: 'In the Cojuangco place, there were several groups that gathered for different purposes, not just for the plotting alone.' Meanwhile, those accused expressed confidence they would not be charged. Lawyer Roy Seneres said he should not be indicted for advising a general to withdraw support from Mrs Arroyo since withdrawal of support 'is not a crime'. Rex Robles, a former coup plotter turned security analyst, agreed, saying the government faced an uphill legal battle because a key element in rebellion was missing. Under the law, 'you really have to take up arms and do something violent in order to rebel. But talking about it and asking permission from the chief of staff to do it does not constitute rebellion,' Mr Robles said.