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Philippine gov't condemns standoff staged by ex-coup plotters
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15:56, November 29, 2007

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The Philippine presidential palace Thursday condemned the standoff staged by a group of former coup plotters and said it will not allow another mutiny to happen like the Oakwood mutiny in Makati City in 2003.

A group of military officers including newly elected opposition senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim walked out of a courtroom in Makati City Thursday morning and began a standoff with government in a five-star hotel asking for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo over alleged corruption and misrule.

Presidential Legal Counsel Chief Sergio Apostol said that the government would take the "necessary action" of law once they gather enough evidence against Trillanes and Lim.

"The necessary action will be taken. We cannot repeat what they did in Oakwood," he said in a radio interview. "We will see what happens. We cannot say now what rules have been violated. We will know what to do," he said.

Trillanes was one of the leaders of the Magdalo group that staged a short-lived mutiny at the Oakwood Hotel in Makati City in July 2003. After that, he and his fellow Magdalo leaders were charged with rebellion. Lim was accused of plotting a coup in early 2006.

President Arroyo, who was earlier in San Pablo City for the Local Peace and Security Assembly, left aboard a helicopter after delivering her speech and headed straight to Malacanang presidential palace to preside over a crisis meeting over the situation, according to official Philippines News Agency.

The entire National Capital Region Police Office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been placed on full alert following a protest march by the former coup plotters and troops have been sending to Makati City to contain the situation.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro branded as illegal the action mounted by the small group of military personnel and ordered the military to re-arrest of them.

The Philippine military has also appealed to the public to remain calm and said the military is solidly behind President Arroyo.

"We are calling on the people to be calm and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly the National Capital Region Command under General (Fernando) Mesawith and the Philippine Marines are addressing the situation right now," said military spokesman Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro.

When asked if the incident is another attempt to grab power, Bacarro said: "We can interpret it as like that."

Trillanes and Lim, who were awaiting trials by military and civilian courts, walked out a courtroom where they had a hearing, and joined civilians and a dozen fully armed and uniformed soldiers carrying M-16 and M-14 assault rifles.

The soldiers, some of whom were carrying Magdalo flags of the 2003 Oakwood mutiny soldiers, marched along Makati Avenue and entered the Manila Peninsula Hotel, a five-star hotel frequented by the country's upper class and foreigners.

Oakwood is the name of a building the mutineers occupied in the2003 coup attempt.

Source: Xinhua

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