Philippines president declares state of emergency

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a state of emergency Friday, saying she had quashed a coup plot but that the Philippines still faced a "clear threat" from treasonous forces.

Clashes erupted as riot 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.

Police then used truncheons and shields to roust a stone-throwing group trying to gather for a second protest. Several people were arrested; others were left bloodied.

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 "people power" revolts and has a recent history of restiveness.

While she vowed she was in control, Arroyo clearly was worried about events spinning out of control as her opponents tried to hijack the anniversary activities.

The commemorations were canceled, presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye told a news conference, adding that the military has been ordered "to prevent and suppress lawless violence."

Arroyo, who survived two earlier coup attempts, said the political opposition, along with the extreme left and the extreme right, were determined to bring down the elected government.

"I am declaring a state of emergency because of the clear threat to the nation," a defiant Arroyo said in a taped, nationally televised statement.

"This is my warning against those who threaten the government: the whole weight of the law will fall on your treason."

Appealing for calm, she claimed 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 Arroyo, who held a pre-dawn emergency meeting of her national security council. "We crushed this attempt."

She stopped short of declaring martial law, a sensitive issue in a country where Marcos used it to rule by decree, reports the AP.


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