Arroyo vow after Manila coup bid

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo has said the full force of the law will be brought against renegade soldiers who launched an attempted coup.

The bid was ended after hundreds of troops stormed a luxury hotel in Manila that the two dozen rebels had occupied.

The mutinous soldiers were arrested after a day-long siege and led away from the Peninsula Hotel in handcuffs.

The government has imposed a midnight (1600GMT) to 0500 curfew on Manila in order to conduct "follow-up" measures.

The renegade troops had barricaded themselves in the hotel after breaking out of court where they were standing trial over a failed 2003 mutiny.

They were calling for the overthrow of President Arroyo.

Live coverage

Mrs Arroyo made a brief televised statement after the mutineers had been arrested, saying: "Just like before, we will impose the full force of the law strictly and without favour.

"The trial of the rebel soldiers will continue in accordance with the law."

She said fresh charges would be filed against the soldiers involved in the coup attempt.

Interior minister Ronaldo Puno said the curfew would allow the authorities to conduct "follow-up" security operations.

During the hotel assault, about 1,500 government troops had surrounded the building before an armoured personnel carrier smashed through the main entrance.

Tear gas and shots were fired, but there were no reports of casualties.

The BBC's Michael Barker at the scene said the lobby was covered with shattered glass and there were Christmas decorations on the floor.

Scores of journalists converged on the hotel after the rebel soldiers took it over, providing live coverage of the siege that was broadcast around the world.

The rebels urged the army to join them in their uprising, a call that was not answered.

In a website statement, the organisers of the botched coup attempt said the country was facing "a crisis of extreme proportions" and that Mrs Arroyo was a "bogus president".

"We have today withdrawn our support from Mrs Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in order to end her unconstitutional and illegal occupation of the presidency," one of the leaders, Brig Gen Danilo Lim, wrote.

As government troops stormed the hotel, a leader of the rebels, Senator Antonio Trillanes, said they were ending their action to save the lives of civilians and journalists inside the hotel.

He was arrested along with about two dozen soldiers. Dozens of journalists were also detained - the government said their identities would be verified to ensure no rebels had escaped disguised as reporters.

'Chaos and panic'

Leonie Anning, a British tourist in Manila, told the BBC News website that she was in a nearby shop when she was evacuated and rushed onto the street.

"There were many armed soldiers... and not knowing what's going on, it was pretty scary," she said.

However, Michael Whiting, the vice-chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Manila, told the BBC News website that his Filipino colleagues seemed "pretty apathetic".

"Most people have grown weary of attempts to overthrow the government," he said.

The Philippines has a history of insurrection and popular revolt.

Mrs Arroyo, whose popularity has been dented by long-standing corruption allegations, has already survived at least two coup plots and three attempts to impeach her during her time in office.

Sen Trillanes, a navy lieutenant, was elected in May but has remained in military detention while on trial over a 2003 mutiny.

Then renegade troops took over a shopping centre for a day, until they were overpowered by security forces.

29/11/2007

Bron : BBC News

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