Sending in the Swat team
The latest Philippine political drama.
MANILA, Philippines - Philippine troops and SWAT teams stormed a five-star hotel on Thursday that dissident military officers commandeered after walking out of their coup trial and demanding that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo resign.I am no fan of Gloria Arroyo, as can be seen by the two Knucklehead awards I've given her. The latest of which was for the Presidential pardon Arroyo gave to former Philippine President Joseph Estrada.
Soon after the confrontation ended with the dissidents surrendering, the government announced a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew for the Manila area, with checkpoints set up and the military and police on red alert.
"The full force of the law will be meted out without any concession. Additional charges are being prepared to hold accountable those who committed new crimes," Arroyo said.
The military men and their civilian sympathizers — including former Vice President Teofisto Guingona — were later led in groups to police buses. It was not immediately clear if they were being arrested or taken in for questioning. Several journalists also were detained.
The trial for Trillanes and his co-defendants is over a 2003 insurrection in which troops commandeered a shopping center and hotel and demanded Arroyo's ouster.
Escorted by military police, who apparently did not prevent them from leaving the court, the defendants marched to the Peninsula hotel, pushed away guards at the entrance, and set up a command center in a second-floor function room. Armed guards were set up on stairways from the lobby.
Arroyo is just the latest in a long line of corrupt Philippine politicians. They plunder that country's treasury while most of the citizenry live in poverty or near poverty levels. Even if Arroyo is ousted, I expect little to change in Philippine politics. As my Tacloban born wife says, 'Same dog, different collar'.
Two problems I see with coup attempts even against corrupt politicians are.
1- They are undemocratic actions taken against an elected President. Who voted for these military officers to take over? The Philippines is not a dictatorship.
2- When these coups happen, often innocent people are injured or killed. Today was no different.
At least two people were injured during the assault on the Peninsula hotel. An armored personnel carrier, earlier used as cover by the security forces, was used to crash through the roped-shut lobby entrance.I don't say this lightly, but these officers are cowards. If they had any courage, they wouldn't be using shopping malls and hotels to stage their protests or insurrection.
Coups are scary situations for ordinary people, and I know from personal experience. In 1989, my wife was called for her embassy interview before being granted a visa to immigrate to the United States. Her interview was December 5th, and I was scheduled to meet her in Manila on December first. On December 1st, Philippine Officer Gringo Honasan staged a coup against Corazon Aquino. I was en route at the time, and my Northwest Airlines flight was diverted to Seoul South South Korea. Leonita was in Manila waiting for my arrival. For parts of four days, I frantically tried contacting her as violence was happening in the Philippine capital. My wife was staying with relatives who had no telephone.(I had hotel reservations but Leonita had no means of paying for them. No credit card namely)
In addition to being scared for my wife's safety, I ran up hundreds of dollars in phone charges in a futile effort to contact her, plus had to endure days of eating Salisbury steak and sitting around in warm weather clothes while staying in a country where the temperatures barely broke forty. That isn't snark, but what went on for me between Dec 1-4 1989. Coup attempts often take innocent lives, over 100 people died in 1989 and not all were perpertrators of the coup or Philippine military members, and aren't something to be taken for granted. So think twice before wishing the overthrow of some unpopular politician(like Hugo Chavez) abroad. People going about their ordinary lives are going to get caught in the crossfire.
Linked to- Adam, Big Dog, Pirate's Cove, Rosemary, Yankee Sailor,