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Philippine president: 'I'm in control'

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Philippines President Arroyo  

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Estrada speaks out

Vandalizing and looting

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MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Authorities in the Philippines have held off an uprising meant to restore former President Joseph Estrada to power, the current president said Tuesday.

"I'm not worried. I'm in control," Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo told CNN after declaring a state of rebellion in Manila.

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CNN's Kathy Quiano describes the situation

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In the streets Monday night and Tuesday, there has been violence and arrests (May 1)

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Philippine President Arroyo declares 'state of rebellion'

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"There are no more seditious rallies going on now, and many of the coup plotters have been arrested," Arroyo said.

The capital of Manila saw tens of thousands of Estrada supporters rioting overnight.

Police and soldiers in Manila turned back a march early Tuesday on Malacanang Palace, the presidential residence, demanding that Estrada be returned to power.

Philippine government sources reported that three civilians and one police officer had been killed during the demonstrations.

Estrada was removed from office in January amid allegations of widespread graft and corruption. He has maintained his innocence, but he and his son, Jinggoy, were arrested last week on corruption charges.

Estrada was moved to a prison outside Manila as Tuesday's violent march began.

"One of the documents he inadvertently left behind was a draft of a document proclaiming himself as president once again," Arroyo said.

Under the state of rebellion, Justice Secretary Hernando Perez ordered the arrest of at least 11 key opposition figures Tuesday.

In a telephone interview with CNN while in police custody, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile told CNN that he was being detained "without any warrant of arrest." He said he had told the protesters on Monday night "not to do what they were planning to do."

Declaration of a state of rebellion allows authorities to arrest suspects without a warrant and is the first of three steps a president can take to maintain law and order.

Subsequent steps are the suspension of habeas corpus rights and martial law.

Estrada speaks out

In a statement issued from a detention centre south of the capital where he was taken on Monday, Estrada called on his supporters to avoid further violence -- but did not call for them to disperse.

"I earnestly call on our people today for calm and sobriety, and to exercise restraint in the face of the grave crisis facing our nation today," he said.

"We must not give this regime any reason to further trample on our rights of assembly by using excessive force. We must not also give this regime an excuse to declare martial law to ensure its continued stay in power and to further inflict harm on its own people." Enrile, an Estrada ally and prominent politician, surrendered at his home and was taken to police headquarters for questioning.

Police said 103 protesters had been arrested and 36 policemen were hurt during the overnight violence.

An Arroyo aide said the protesters could be heard through the walls of the palace -- which is defended by high walls on three sides, and a river on the fourth -- saying the atmosphere inside Malacanang was "scary."

Arroyo told CNN: "I'm not worried. I'm in control."

Facing the biggest crisis of her presidency since being sworn in exactly 100 days ago, she said the attempt to storm the presidential palace overnight was part of planned rebellion.

"We have the evidence, we have the proof . . . this was a carefully planned rebellion," Arroyo said.

Overnight, witnesses said police and soldiers had persistently fired warning shots in the air and sent teargas rounds into the crowd -- which at one point was over 40,000 strong.

Vandalizing and looting

CNN's Kathy Quiano spoke of demonstrators torching vehicles, including a police car, as well as vandalizing and looting homes and shops as they retreated.

"This is not just a demonstration. This is a rebellion," government spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said.

Estrada, who was having medical checks in a military hospital, was whisked away by helicopter to a maximum security detention centre at Laguna City, 50 km (30 miles) south of Manila, shortly after the violent march began.

His son Jinggoy, also facing corruption charges, was with him. "Don't shoot the people, they are unarmed," Jinggoy said his father told the police.

The former president faces a charge of economic plunder for alleged corruption during his 31-month rule. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death, or life imprisonment.

Influential Philippines Catholic Cardinal Jaime Sin, speaking at the Edsa shrine on Tuesday afternoon, called for calm.

"In this mass we continue to pray for peace, we pray for enlightenment and sobriety," Sin said told a mass, attended by thousands of Arroyo supporters.

Independent economists agree economic problems are not to be solved overnight, and some political analysts expressed fears that the military are becoming a key to power as confusion continues in civil politics.

The instability has already sent financial markets lower.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Church counters Philippine counter-protest
April 29, 2001
Arroyo warns Estrada supporters as protests continue
April 28, 2001
Estrada arrests trigger angry protests
April 26, 2001
Estrada: 'The truth will come out'
April 25, 2001
Estrada arrested
April 25, 2001

RELATED SITES:
Philippine Office of the Press Secretary
Philippines House of Representatives

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