Manila crackdown after hotel siege

Philippines police lift curfew but expect more arrests after putting down rebellion.

    Police say they are still looking for some of the soldiers who managed to escape [AFP]

    Twenty-seven soldiers involved had earlier walked out of their courtroom trial where they were facing charges over another coup attempt four years ago.
     
    Jury still out
     
    Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from Manila, said the public was still divided on who "won" Thursday's protest.
     

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    While some Filipinos felt the government took excessive measures, others felt that Antonio Trillanes, a senator and leader of the officers, had been irresponsible in marching on the capital's streets with armed guards to commandeer the hotel.
     
    Avelino Razon, the national police chief, said 101 people were arrested at the hotel and that more were being sought.
     
    "We are pursuing the other groups that might try to continue to implement their plans," he said.
     

    Meanwhile Ignacio Bunye, the Philipinnes presidential spokesman, told Al Jazeera on Friday that the public supports the government's actions to resolve the standoff.

     

    "The people are tired of adventurism and [they] are firmly committed to the constitution and democratic path.

     

    "The damage inflicted however has been on the economy and the extent is incalculable…[but] thanks to our strong fundamentals ... we expect to bounce back."

     

    Bunye said his government "regrets" the arrests of journalists covering Thursday's standoff, but said that they have been released on the orders of president Arroyo.

     
    Midnight curfew
     
    The capital and surrounding areas were put under a midnight-5am curfew to allow police to pursue follow-up arrests.
     
    Razon said the curfew would not be imposed for a second night although police were still looking for some of the soldiers who managed to escape.
     
    Police were also bracing themselves for an anti-Arroyo protest on Friday - a public holiday honouring a national hero.
     
    The rally was organised by left-wing and other opposition groups before Thursday's events, and Razon expressed hope that it would turn out peacefully.
     
    Arroyo, who has weathered at least three previous coup plots and three impeachment attempts, says her government is stable and the military loyal to her.
     
    She planned to go ahead with a trip to Spain and Britain on Saturday,
    Cerge Remonde, a presidential aide, said.
     
    Al Jazeera's Ortigas said that while Arroyo remained unpopular among many Filipinos, she still had the support of the military's top brass and the pockets of opposition against her have not managed to unify to either overthrow her or find a democratic means to unseat her.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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