A group of Filipino officers and soldiers accused of coup attempts against the government walked out of a courtroom in Makati City, the country's financial hub, and began staging an armed confrontation with the authorities Thursday.
The protesters were led by former Marine officer Antonio Trillanes, who was elected senator this year, and former army general Danilo Lim, both of whom were accused of coup attempts against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2003 and 2005.
They called for the ouster of President Arroyo after walking out of a court hearing at the Makati City Hall, a seat occupied by a mayor opposed to Arroyo.
Trillanes and Lim marched out of a Makati courtroom and joined civilians and a dozen fully armed and uniformed soldiers carrying M-16 and M-14 assault rifles, according to footages broadcast by local television.
The soldiers, some of whom were carrying Magdalo flags of the mutiny soldiers who protested against Arroyo in 2003 in Makati City, marched along Makati Avenue and entered the Manila Peninsula Hotel, a five-star hotel frequented by the country's upper class and foreigners.
"This is a withdrawal of support (from Arroyo). We are joining our people in calling for the removal of the President," Lim announced over radio and television.
He accused Arroyo of "violating the Constitution with impunity by plundering the treasury".
The protest was staged minutes after a Makati court started a hearing on accusations against these men for suspected coups.
The Philippine National Police placed its units on full alert after the protest started.
"We are now on red alert. Our policemen have been dispatched (to Makati City)," said Director General Avelino Razon Jr., Philippine National Police chief.