STATE OF EMERGENCY: GMA SAYS COUP HAS BEEN CRUSHED

[PHOTO AT LEFT - President Arroyo: I control the situation.]

MANILA, February 25, 2006, (MANILA TIMES) By Sam Mediavilla, Reporter - President Arroyo on Friday proclaimed a national emergency in the face of what the military said was a foiled attempt by right-wing soldiers and communist rebels to bring down her administration.

“The government has crushed this illegal action,” the President said in a taped televised address. “As commander in chief, I control the situation.”

Mrs. Arroyo said civilians were involved in the alleged plot and “we will not overlook those who have been providing support and money to this effort.”

Proclamation 1017 bans all protest rallies and raised the specter of warrantless arrests.

The President said that for the past months, the political opposition has conspired with the extreme Left, represented by the communist New People’s Army, and the extreme Right, represented by military adventurists.

She invoked Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution in declaring an emergency.

The President said unauthorized troop movements and the tactical alliance of leftists and rightists constitute a clear and present danger to the safety of the state and the people.

Appealing for calm, she said 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 the President, who held a predawn emergency meeting of her National Security Council.

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

Presidential Chief of Staff Mike Defensor said no curfew will be imposed, but the declaration bans rallies, allows arrests without warrant, permits the President to call in the military to intervene and authorizes her to take over facilities—including the media outlets—that may affect national security.

In a briefing in Malacañang, Justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez said that under Proclamation 1017 any person or group that will challenge the government publicly could be arrested and charged with inciting to rebellion.

Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio said nothing in the Constitution requires the government to seek first the approval of Congress before declaring a national emergency.

The latest crisis overshadowed celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the 1986 People Power revolution.

The President stayed in Malacañang the whole day together with her sons Mikey Arroyo and Dato and Dato’s wife, Cacai.

Her husband, Mike Arroyo, and daughter Luli were not around.

Also in Malacañang were incoming Ambassador to Greece Rigoberto Tiglao, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, Presidential Adviser on Job Generation Arthur Yap, Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando, Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Speaker Jose de Venecia and his wife, Gina, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Press Undersecretary Milton Alingod, Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Eduardo Nachura, Health Secretary Francisco Duque, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Revenue Commissioner Mario Bunag, Commission on Overseas Filipino Chairman Dante A. Ang and Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes.

Provincial governors from Sorsogon, Antique and Eastern Samar joined Mayors Lito Atienza of Manila, Feliciano Belmonte of Quezon City, Vicente Eusebio of Pasig, Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela, Florencio Bernabe of Parañaque, Sigfrido Tinga of Taguig, Rosendo Capco of Pateros, Imelda Aguilar of Las Piñas and Jaime Fresnedi of Muntinlupa in pledging their support for the President. --With AFP and AP


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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