Friday, February 24, 2006
Filipino president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a state of emergency Friday following reports from security forces on a foiled coup attempt. Arroyo’s emergency powers allow arrests without warrants and the extended detention of prisoners without charges.
Brigadier General Danilo Lim, the commander of the 1st Scout Ranger Regiment, an elite military unit, is being held following accusations that he intended to join his troops with anti-Arroyo protestors. The troops were reportedly planning to inform protesters that the soldiers were no longer supporting Arroyo hoping that this news would foment an uprising against the president.
Arroyo has forbidden protest rallies, but more than a thousand Filipinos attended rallies anyway (Bloomberg.com says “thousands of Filipinos”), and police broke up a couple of rallies on Edsa, the main street of Manila, as they were heading downtown (to Makati), with shields and nightsticks. The Filipino peso dropped 1.1% vs. the US dollar, its biggest decline since 2002. 
The crisis comes during the weekend when the country is recognizing the 20th anniversary of the “People Power” revolution that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who fled and stayed in exile in the United States.
This is not the first time Ms. Arroyo’s regime has survived attempts at deletion. At the beginning of her presidency, supporters of the ousted President Estrada stormed Malacanang and demanded Arroyo’s resignation. Later, in 2003, 300 soldiers took over a hotel in Manila in another bid to topple Arroyo. People have alleged that the Arroyo administration engaged in corruption and failed to keep the economy stable. Arroyo won the 2004 election, but some people accused her of doing so by cheating. Those allegations led to an attempt to impeach Arroyo in September 2005, which failed.