Manila: Maj Gen Thawip Netniyom, one of the leaders of a coup against Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra last September, was a top graduate of an elite military school in the Philippines, a local paper said.

Thawip graduated top of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City in northern Philippines in 1981, making him a classmate of several coup leaders who failed to thwart President Gloria Arroyo in 2003 and this year, the Inquirer said.

When Thawip attended the 25th reunion of PMAs class 1981 last February, he did not discuss politics. At that time, the opposition, allegedly supported by some right wing Philippine soldiers were plotting against Arroyo.


At the time, the PMA gave special military honours to Thawip for his outstanding achievement in the Royal Thai military, said retired Col Norman Legaspi. Critics said it is now time to change the PMA's curriculum because it has been inspiring coup plotters. "Many right wing rebel soldiers in the Philippines have graduated from the PMA," said a critic, adding that the PMA will soon be known as a school for would-be coup plotters.

"At the PMA, Thawip was a bright student and a nice guy," Legaspi said, adding, "If we got 98 in a subject, he got 100. If we got 100 in another subject, he also got 100. He was really that good."

Thawip was already "like Tiger Woods" in golf while he was a student at the PMA, Legaspi said, adding that he also excelled in soccer and badminton.