METRO BLACKOUT SPARKS FEARS OF NEW REBELLION

METRO MANILA, NOVEMBER 3, 2003  (STAR) A blackout hit Metro Manila and nearby provinces before dawn yesterday, sparking fears of another military rebellion as Filipinos prepared to mark All Saint’s Day to honor their departed ones.

The blackout, which the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said was caused by "tripping" at an unspecified power plant, hit Metro Manila and its 12 million residents at around 2 a.m. although power was restored to most areas two hours later.

The power outage triggered anew rumors of military plots and rebellions, particularly in the wake of the standoff in the impeachment battle between the House of Representatives and Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.

But Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said "the situation is under control" and assured the public that security forces were on standby and ready for any trouble.

The blackout spread through Central Luzon with 17 towns in Tarlac losing electricity for several hours.

Most of the affected towns in Tarlac still did not have electricity as of 7 a.m., according to Tarlac Electric Cooperatives (Tarelco) I and II.

Officials of power firms in the affected areas blamed the National Power Corp. (NPC) but fears of another military rebellion were already spreading.

Speculations of another military rebellion was fueled by President Arroyo’s directive on Friday, ordering all military field officers to account for the men under their commands.

She also warned that the presidency had "the will, the authority and the resources to quell any disorder or attempts at destabilization and we shall not hesitate to move decisively against those who will exploit this inter-branch impasse to foment violence."

The President was apparently referring to the impeachment moves against Davide who had also warned of a "graver danger" of military adventurism which he claimed was created when the House of Representatives effectively impeached him last week.

But Armed Forces Chief Gen. Narciso Abaya said the military remained loyal to the Constitution and the government and the President’s "headcount order" did not mean necessarily mean another military rebellion was brewing.

Fears of another military rebellion came three months after a group of disgruntled military officers, calling themselves the Magdalo group, staged a short-lived mutiny at Makati City’s central business district last July 27. - Benjie Villa, Reuters


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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