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'Rebellion' quashed in the Philippines

Demonstrators' attempts to restore ex-president to power stifled

Firing in the air
Philippine troops fire in the air to deter pro-Estrada protesters  

May 1, 2001
Web posted at: 7:06 PM EDT (2306 GMT)


MANILA, Philippines -- The president of the Philippines said Tuesday authorities have successfully put down an uprising by supporters of her predecessor.

Former President Joseph Estrada's arrest last week on a charge of economic plunder -- defined as stealing more than $1 million from the government -- prompted hundreds of thousands to protest in Manila, the country's capital.

Estrada has also been accused of widespread graft, corruption and perjury. He maintains his innocence on all charges.


Philippine President Arroyo declares 'state of rebellion'

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"This is not just a demonstration. This is a rebellion." - Rigoberto Tiglao, government spokesman
Joseph Estrada Estrada: The downfall of a president
  •  Timeline: Key events
  •  Profile: Joseph Estrada
  •  Audio: 'It's all a conspiracy'

Tens of thousands of Estrada supporters rioted Monday night, vandalizing and looting property. Police and soldiers turned back a march early Tuesday on Malacanang Palace, the official presidential residence, demanding Estrada be returned to power.

Joseph Estrada
Former President Estrada is charged with illegally acquiring $80 million while in office, among other crimes  

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered a state of rebellion on Tuesday, despite claims by Estrada's supporters and constitutional experts that the declaration was illegal. Arroyo later said she wasn't worried and was "in control."

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

Estrada at center of controversy

After several decades as a Spanish colony, the Philippines was a U.S. colony from the late 19th century until July 4, 1946, when it became an independent nation.

For the next two decades, the Philippines was considered by many a "model democracy" before the rise of the strong-handed President Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the island nation from 1965 to 1986 and took away rights of free speech, freedom of assembly and free press.

A "people's power" revolution led to Marcos's removal from power, and the nation became a democracy once again.

Violent demonstrations
Pro-Estrada demonstrations grew violent Monday  

Voters elected a former movie star, Joseph Estrada, on May 11, 1998.

Estrada's 31 months in office were tumultuous, with the economy beginning to deteriorate as rebels continued to fight for independence in the southern part of the Philippines.

It was during this time, Estrada's critics and state lawyers argue, that he illegally acquired four billion pesos ($80 million) by setting up false bank accounts, abusing his power and effectively stealing government money.

In January 2001, another "people's power" revolution, backed whole-heartedly by the influential Catholic church, and a formal impeachment by the Philippine Congress removed Estrada from power. Arroyo, the nation's vice president and a staunch Estrada critic, took over.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm still the duly elected president under our constitution," he told CNN from Philippine National Police Headquarters in Manila after being arrested last week.

Rebellion or demonstration?

Reuters estimated between 100,000 and 300,000 people rallied in support of Estrada in Manila last weekend. The demonstrations gained in intensity when courts ruled Monday that Estrada could be moved to another jail 50 miles (80 kilometers) outside the capital.

 A 'state of rebellion'

From Article VII, Section 18 of the Philippines constitution

The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.

In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.

Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress.

By Monday night, witnesses said police and soldiers were persistently firing warning shots into the air and sending teargas rounds into the crowd -- which at one point was over 40,000 strong.

Estrada's son JV played a prominent role in protests
Estrada's son JV played a prominent role in protests  

CNN's Kathy Quiano said demonstrators torched vehicles and as well vandalized and looted homes and shops after being forced back by authorities.

Police said 103 protesters had been arrested and 36 policemen hurt overnight, with government sources saying three civilians and one police officer were killed during the demonstrations.

An Arroyo aide said 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 the presidential palace was "scary."

Facing the biggest crisis of her presidency since being sworn in 100 days ago, Arroyo said the attempt to storm her residence overnight was part of a planned rebellion.

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

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

Estrada supporters and some constitutional experts said Arroyo abused her power in declaring a "state of rebellion." The Philippine constitution does not explicitly recognize a "state of rebellion," although it does give the president certain powers in case of an uprising.



theft; in this case, stealing over $1 million from the government



illegal, unfair gain or profit; profit made in dishonest or questionable ways



relating to incitement of resistance, rebellion or insurrection against lawful authority



violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group

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Lawyers question Arroyo's powers
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Arroyo declares state of rebellion
May 1, 2001
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May 1, 2001
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April 29, 2001
Arroyo warns Estrada supporters as protests continue
April 28, 2001
Estrada transfer cleared as protests continue
April 27, 2001
Presidential crisis in the Philippines
January 18, 2001

Philippine Constitution
Philippine House of Representatives (11th Congress)
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

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