Sat, Feb 25, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Alleged Philippine coup plot crushed

TREASON:The Philippine president declared a state of emergency after the military said it foiled a coup attempt, and riot police clashed with protesters at a shrine to Ferdinand Marcos


Philippine President Gloria Arroyo declared a state of emergency yesterday, saying she had quashed a coup plot but that the Philippines still faced a "clear threat" from treasonous forces.

Clashes erupted as riot police used water cannons to disperse about 5,000 protesters defying a ban on rallying at a shrine to the 1986 "people power" uprising that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Police used truncheons and shields to roust a stone-throwing group trying to gather for a second protest. Several people were arrested; others were bloodied.

Former president Corazon Aquino and about 5,000 people were later allowed to march peacefully to a memorial to her late husband Benigno, whose assassination in 1983 sparked massive protests that led to the revolt against Marcos.

Amid a massive security clampdown, the military barricaded its camps to keep troops from joining the demonstrations and detained an army general allegedly involved in the takeover plot. The military has played major roles in two "people power" revolts and has a recent history of restiveness.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday issued an "orange" travel alert for the Philippines, suggesting Taiwanese should temporarily suspend plans to visit the country.

Ministry Spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) yesterday said the state of emergency in the Philippines was aimed at resolving the domestic political situation, and did not directly affect foreigners at present.

"So far, no Taiwanese in the Philippines have been affected by the [attempted] coup. Life in the city [Manila] and businesses remain unaffected," Lu said.

Taiwan's representative office in the Philippines has activated an emergency response plan linked to local police to closely monitor the safety of Taiwanese nationals, Lu said.

While she vowed she was in control, Arroyo was clearly worried about losing her grip on events as her opponents tried to hijack the anniversary activities.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye told reporters that commemorations have been canceled and that the military was ordered "to prevent and suppress lawless violence."

Arroyo, who survived two earlier coup attempts, said the political opposition, along with extreme elements of the political left and right, were determined to bring down the elected government.

"I am declaring a state of emergency because of the clear threat to the nation," a defiant Arroyo said in a taped, nationally televised statement.

"This is my warning against those who threaten the government: The whole weight of the law will fall on your treason," she said.

Appealing for calm, she claimed the military had quashed a coup plot by some military officers and their men.

"There were a few who tried to break from the armed forces chain of command, to fight the civilian government and establish a regime outside the constitution," said Arroyo, who held a pre-dawn emergency meeting of her national security council.

"We crushed this attempt," she said.

She stopped short of declaring martial law, a sensitive issue because Marcos used it to rule by decree.

Her chief of staff, Mike Defensor, said no curfew will be imposed but the declaration bans rallies, allows arrest without warrant, permits the president to call in the military to intervene and lets her take over facilities -- including media outlets -- that may affect national security.

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