Hotel standoff ends: Philippines counters yet another coup attempt
A brief face-off with rebel troops at a five-star hotel in Manila prompts a weary sense of déjà vu.
A dramatic coup attempt in the Philippines Thursday ended in seven hours when elite Army forces stormed a luxury hotel in downtown Manila, capturing rebel troops who had holed up there along with some staff and journalists. Two people were injured but there were no casualties.Skip to next paragraph
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The coup, staged by mutinous soldiers already on trial for a similar try in 2003, is the latest attempt to dislodge Philippines president Gloria Arroyo, whom dissidents accuse of corruption.
The drama began as a number of former soldiers were being taken away from the courthouse where they had been standing trial, reports The Times (London). About two dozen soldiers took over the Peninsula Hotel in the Makati financial district of the capital.
Military police made no apparent effort to stop the plotters, and some even went with the rebels as they left the courthouse and occupied the hotel.
There the plotters, joined by others who had not been standing trial, and estimated to number anywhere between 12 and 30, forebade guests from leaving and started issuing demands for President Arroyo to resign.
The soldiers called a press conference soon after, reports Al Jazeera.
… Brigadier Danilo Lim, a former commander of the elite Scout Rangers unit, had said the group was taking control of the government.
"We make this fateful step of removing Mrs Macapagal Arroyo from the presidency and undertake the formation of a new government," he said.
Army troops and police soon had the hotel surrounded, reports Reuters.
The rebel soldiers first stopped people from leaving the hotel as a 3 p.m. deadline for them to end their mutiny passed, but later allowed people to go out.
The mutiny is being led by Senator Antonio Trillanes, Brigadier-General Danilo Lim, and former vice president Teofisto Guingona.
Trillanes, then a navy officer, was one of the leaders of the failed mutiny in 2003, when junior officers took over a luxury apartment tower not far from the Peninsula.
Some of the rebel soldiers wore red armbands with a sun logo, similar to an insignia worn during the 2003 mutiny, which ended peacefully.
Leaders of the country's political opposition, particularly President Arroyo's former vice president Teofisto Guingona, and a couple of Catholic bishops, rushed to the hotel in support, "saying that this could be another 'People Power' uprising similar to the two such events that took place in 1986 and 2001," reports The New York Times.
But the soldiers soon surrendered. Minutes before, SWAT teams swarmed the hotel, firing shots and releasing tear gas, The New York Times said.
The seven-hour standoff at the Peninsula Manila hotel in Makati City, Manila's business district, ended with the arrest of several people, including a senator, a former vice president, a Catholic bishop and several journalists.
… Lieutenant Trillanes, who led the 2003 mutiny and who successfully ran for the Senate this year even while behind bars, said he had no regrets about today's events. Brigadier General Danilo Lim, who is accused of leading a 2006 alleged coup attempt, defended the take-over of the hotel. "Dissent without action is consent," he said.