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Opposition Lawmaker: Philippine Emergency Rules Are Dangerous


Philippines legislator Maria Imelda (Imee) Marcos is joining opposition voices calling on President Gloria Arroyo to end the state of emergency. Marcos - the daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos - says she thinks the president is panicking in reaction to an alleged coup attempt and there is a danger the deteriorating political situation could open the door for a military takeover.

Opposition Representative Imee Marcos made her case in a meeting with foreign correspondents here in Manila Monday. She compared President Arroyo's declaration of emergency rule Friday to the martial law imposed in the 1970s by her late father, dictator Ferdinand Marcos. But she says the current proclamation is worse because it is vague.

"Today we have a proclamation 1017. It is certainly not the same," she said. "This is martial law as presidential terrorism. This is the 1987 constitution stood on its head."

Mrs. Arroyo declared the state of emergency on Friday after her government says it thwarted an attempted coup by an alliance of the right wing and communist forces. Her government has detained military and police officers - as well as charged more than a dozen opposition figures.

Marcos says the state of emergency is an overreaction and there is concern about who is really in charge.

"The fear here is that, I guess, [the] best case would be that the president … is panicking. But, on the other hand, the other fear is that no one is in control," said Marcos. "That this is just knee-jerk, and that it is all from moment to moment. And that strange forces - from the police and the military - are dictating to the president. We are not sure."

The military - which has been key in a dozen coup attempts in the last 20 years of democratic rule - appears to be fractured in the current political crisis.

The Armed Forces leadership has declared its loyalty to the constitutional process - but several key officers have been implicated in trying to overthrow the Arroyo government.

Just Sunday, there was a day-long standoff at the Marine headquarters with a rebellious officer calling for the public to march against the president in defiance of a ban of public rallies.

Representative Marcos says there are fears that the military may not be able to bring its ranks into order and that the public - fed up with corruption and poverty - is finding the idea of possible military rule appealing.

"The military suddenly has become an acceptable option to the man on the street," she said. "It is frightening to hear, but it has been said time and again, that a revolution should come about now. … I think it's really scary."

Marcos admits the opposition has no viable leader if Mrs. Arroyo were to leave power. And without someone to rally around, she says she doubts the people will take to the streets en masse - like they did to oust her father in 1986 and Mrs. Arroyo's predecessor, Joseph Estrada.

Representative Marcos is just one of many voices speaking out. Former president, Corazon Aquino, once an Arroyo ally, has repeatedly called on her to resign.

Another former president, Fidel Ramos, says he is appalled and dismayed by the emergency declaration, which he also criticized as being dangerously vague.