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Rebellious Philippine Soldiers End Siege After Police Raid

  • Douglas Bakshian

There has been a peaceful end to the takeover of a luxury hotel in Manila by a handful rebel soldiers who called for the ouster of the Philippines government. Meanwhile, an overnight curfew (midnight to 5 a.m.) has been imposed on Manila and surrounding areas. Douglas Bakshian reports from the Philippine capital.

The leader of the rebel group, Senator Antonio Trillanes, said he gave up after a six-hour siege by government forces to prevent the loss of innocent life that might have occurred in a shoot-out. He is a former military officer accused in a 2003 coup attempt.

"This is not our loss. What we did here is our obligation to the people," he said. "We are public servants, we have to stand up for them. And what we did is just fulfilling that obligation. So this is not a loss. If somebody lost here it is the whole nation."

Senator Trillanes was a surprise winner in this year's congressional elections. People voted for him even though he was in a military prison on coup charges.

He announced his surrender not long after security forces threw tear gas into the hotel lobby and an armored personnel carrier smashed down the entrance.

During the siege, the rebel soldiers said they wanted an end to what they consider to be the corrupt and illegitimate government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Another of the rebel soldiers' leaders, General Danilo Lim, read a statement to the media.

"The die is cast ... thus we make this fateful step of removing Mrs. Macapagal Arroyo from the presidency and undertake the formation of a new government," he said.

The incident began when the rebel soldiers walked out of a court hearing for the 2003 coup, and headed over the to the hotel where they set up camp. Authorities say that as the rebels moved they were joined by armed people in civilian clothes who later changed into military fatigues.

President Arroyo's spokesman, meanwhile, said she has no concerns about the loyalty of the military as a whole.

Mrs. Arroyo has survived two impeachments and several coup plots. The opposition accuses her of corruption and cheating in the 2004 Presidential election, allegations she denies.

There have been numerous coup plots and attempts against various governments since 1986 when dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted in a military backed people power movement.