Philippine army, police on alert as Arroyo leaves


  • World
  • Monday, 12 Sep 2005

By Tan Ee Lyn

MANILA (Reuters) - Security forces in the Philippine capital were on top alert on Monday, hours before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was due to fly to New York to attend a world summit at the United Nations. 

The military said the heightened alert had nothing to do with persistent talk that some junior officers, unhappy over Congressional rejection of impeachment complaints against Arroyo, might seek to intervene in the political crisis. 

Police raised the alert late on Sunday as left-wing transport groups went on strike in protest over rising fuel costs. 

Filipino protesters, condemning the continued rise of oil prices in the country which they said can no longer be shouldered by the transport sector, hold placards as they burn a caricature of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during a transport strike in Manila September 12, 2005. (REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo)

"This is in relation to the departure of our president to the United Nations today. It will be in effect until her arrival on the 17th," said army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Buenaventura Pascual. 

"Our officers and men are following the chain of command. They are abiding by their mandated tasks. We don't see any trouble at present in the armed forces," he added. 

Last week, Arroyo survived an impeachment vote in Congress and averted a Senate trial that would have examined charges that she cheated her way to a fresh six-year term in the May 2004 election. 

Opposition leaders have vowed to take their fight against Arroyo into the streets. 

Days before the rejection of the impeachment complaints, administration senators Rodolfo Biazon and Ramon Magsaysay warned that junior officers might intervene in the political crisis. 

Arroyo peacefully put down a one-day mutiny by about 300 soldiers in July 2003. 

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