Two communists suspected of being behind a series of bomb explosions in Manila were in police custody, a senior official said yesterday. "Philippines National Police Chief Panfilo Lacson is interrogating the two suspects", said former Philippines Ambassador to Washington, Ernesto Maceda, who is also the presidential spokesman.

The government has received verified intelligence reports that the communist military arm, the New People's Army and some disgruntled military officials planned to blow out power lines in the provinces, particularly, Nueva Ecija in central Luzon and Quezon in southern Luzan, said Maceda.

"This appears to be a conspiracy of the left and some rightists," Maceda explained. "I have revealed this to show that we have nothing to do with the six bombing incidents in Metro Manila. The NPA planned to blow up power lines in the provinces."

"Prepare with candles and be careful because the bombings are part of their plan," said Maceda, adding, "we're sending out people to try to guard public utilities and power lines." Instead of giving assurances that the communist NPA and a small group of disgruntled military officials could not topple the government, Maceda gave the impression that the government was helpless.

Teddy Casino of Bayan, one of the groups holding protest rallies for the resignation of President Joseph Estrada, said:"In fact, the bombing incidents happened at a time when the government kept giving reassurance that they are on red alert."

Earlier, the government said the military and the police were backing the government, following reports that retired generals had called for Estrada's resignation over his alleged involvement in gambling pay offs and kickbacks.

The police were misled into believing that the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf extremist group were out to start a bombing spree in Metro Manila. "The president has no plan to declare martial law. The opposition should not link these bombing incidents to that alleged plan," said Maceda.