- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2006

MANILA — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo lifted a week-old state of emergency in the Philippines yesterday after her security advisers assured her the threat of a coup had eased.

But she remained unapologetic about the decree, which many Filipinos saw as an attack on their political freedom.

“No matter how many times, I will act with steadfastness and determination each time our enemies undermine our nation and the economy,” Mrs. Arroyo said in a nationally televised address.

Mrs. Arroyo put the country on alert on Feb. 24 to quash what she said was a coup plot by a loose coalition of opposition lawmakers, communist rebels and right-wing military officers.

The decree enabled the government to ban rallies, arrest dozens of people without warrants and crack down on the press.

A week later, she said she was “confident” order had been restored. “For the love of the nation, it is time to make things work and get things done.”

Mrs. Arroyo reached out to the restive military, ordering her defense secretary to investigate their complaints and needs.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Matthew Lussenhop welcomed the end of the state of emergency and said Washington looks forward to continuing to “deepen our cooperation.”

Mrs. Arroyo lifted the decree after her security advisers said the threat of a coup had diminished. But former President Fidel Ramos, whose support was critical when Mrs. Arroyo survived a political crisis several months ago, warned the situation had not stabilized.

The military was in a heightened state of alert in the capital, said Capt. Ramon Zagala, spokesman for the National Capital Region command.

Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz vowed to court-martial two senior military commanders implicated in the foiled coup.

Authorities have filed criminal charges against at least 51 opposition members, military personnel and others for trying to overthrow the president. Mrs. Arroyo said each would have a fair trial.

Police announced yesterday they had filed charges of inciting sedition against the publisher and two columnists at the Daily Tribune, an opposition newspaper that was raided last weekend.

Civil libertarians, lawyers, businessmen and media groups have expressed alarm over the arrests, the ban on protests and the newspaper raid.

Left-wing Rep. Teodoro Casino, one of six lawmakers charged with rebellion, called the end of Mrs. Arroyo’s decree a “cosmetic” move. He and four of the other legislators have been holed up in the House of Representatives building to avoid arrest.

“We still cannot go out of Congress, we still have a lousy president, and the military and police are still after ‘the enemies of the state,’ ” he said. “She lifted it to escape the snowballing protest against the proclamation.”

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