State of Emergency declared in the Philippines
The Philippine President has just declared a State of Emergency as Proclamation 1017 and says she'll crack down on any opposition. Unnamed persons are being arrested. A specific warning has gone out to former President Cory Aquino not to proceed with a rally in the Makati Business district which already has a permit. For updates see:
Gloria Arroyo is apparently accusing a brigadier general in the "special action force", a man connected with the Philippine Scout Rangers and possibly a USMA graduate named Danilo Lim of being the mastermind. Danilo Lim is under some kind of nebulous arrest as of this writing, in the personal custody (whatever that means) of Philippine Armed Forces Chief of Staff Generoso Senga. There are rumors that another coup leader is still at large, an unnamed officer in the Philippine Marines.
The Scout Rangers and the Philippine Marines represent the elite of the Philippine military.
There are several political groups which oppose Philippine President Arroyo but who do not particularly like each other. They had scheduled separate mass demonstrations today, on the occasion of the anniversary of the People's Power revolution of 1986. One group, led by the leftists were scheduled to assemble in Quezon City while the other, a group led by businessmen and associated with former President Aquino, were slated to meet in the business capital of Makati.
Macapagal vowed to prevent the demonstration in Makati which was to have been attended by former President Aquino and possibly former President Fidel Ramos. At this writing the Makati demonstrations, while not large, were proceeding in despite of pressure to disperse. The leftist rally in Quezon City apparently became a running street battle, but no firearms appear to have been involved, simply rocks, gas bombs and instruments of that nature.
The situation has revealed some of the weaknesses on both sides. A source suggested to me that the absence of any arrests of plotters other than Danilo Lim, who is described as being in the 'personal custody' of the Chief of Staff indicates that the Philippine Army is hesitatant to move decisively; that it is still sitting on the fence. On the other hand, Corazon Aquino's rally in Makati was not massively attended yet pushed on in the face of a direct prohibition by the sitting President. No kayo yet to either side.
The declaration of a state of emergency is said to have thrown the several groups opposing Arroyo into a coalition of convenience because it may be perceived as leading to a kind of martial law if not actually constituting martial law. The police have been given the power to effect warrantless arrests and restrictions are said to be forthcoming on the press but their implementation has not yet been forthcoming as of this writing, possibly because the police and army are afraid to cross some kind of Rubicon. The next few days will indicate which way the symmetry will break.
As it happens, the USS Essex amphibious group is currently tied up providing rescue and relief to the victims of the massive landslide in Leyte. This will be awkward should the amphibious group be needed to cover the remote, but nevertheless conceivable scenario of securing US citizens in Manila.
The crisis has caught a lot of parties with a foot in the air. The next few days should clarify the situation.