When a group of soldiers and civilians planned to establish an extra-constitutional regime in the Philippines, the country’s President Gloria Arroyo declared a state of emergency across the nation. The national currency, peso, and the Philippine stock market have had the biggest drop in more than two years because of the declaration.
“This is my warning to those plotting against the country,'' Arroyo said in a televised address. “The full weight of the law will fall on your betrayal.''
Members of the group will be arrested, Arroyo said. The military said earlier it foiled a plan by some soldiers to join opposition rallies today that would call for Arroyo to step down, and arrested one general, Bloomberg says.
Clashes erupted as 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. The military barricaded its camps to keep troops from joining the demonstrations and detained an army general allegedly involved in the takeover plot.
Commemorations of the 20th anniversary of "people power" were cancelled, presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said, adding that the military had been ordered "to prevent and suppress lawless violence".
Military chiefs said they backed Arroyo. They arrested an army general, who leads an elite special forces unit, for alleged involvement in a coup plot and ensured that a marine colonel was in his barracks, the Independent reports.
Arroyo declared emergency rule, which allows arrests without warrants and an extension of detention without charge, as protesters gathered to mark this week's anniversary of a "people power" revolt that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.
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 popular uprisings and has a recent history of restiveness.
In Washington, the State Department said it was monitoring the situation. "We firmly support the rule of law and constitutional government. Violence should be avoided," spokeswoman Janelle Hironimus said.
The opposition said the declaration showed the government's desperation.
"It could result in more political hemorrhage and security risk," said Rep. Roilo Golez, Arroyo's former national security adviser who withdrew support from her. "This could get out of control.
Extra barbed wire and shipping containers were set up on roads leading to Malacanang, the presidential palace, and only essential staff were allowed in.
Checkpoints appeared around the capital. Media were barred from the main military headquarters, Camp Aguinaldo, where reinforcements arrived in eight armored personnel carriers. Another armored personnel carrier sat outside the marines' camp, with a truckload of marines in full battle gear nearby, the AP reports.
Police already were on red alert nationwide as widespread reports of a coup plot have circulated for more than a week; even elementary school students were discussing it in detail.
Gloria Arroyo - who succeeded Estrada in January 2001 - survived three impeachment bids in September over allegations of massive corruption and vote-rigging. Opposition groups have continued to call for her resignation.