ARMED forces chief of staff Generoso Senga announced in a television interview shortly before 6 a.m. today that the military had thwarted an attempt by rebel factions within its ranks to "withdraw support" from the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Security around Malacañang Palace and military camps in Metro Manila was beefed up in the wee hours of Friday morning in the wake of what the authorities said was  an aborted attempt to force Mrs. Arroyo to step down.

The announcement came almost exactly 20 years after rebel military factions attempted to overthrow the strongman Ferdinand Marcos and were found out, triggering a popular uprising that eventually overthrew the dictator. In the past weeks, Manila has buzzed with rumors of an attempted coup that supposedly involved various military factions. Last night, text messages alleging that the chief of staff and the army chief had joined the revolt made the rounds. The tension reached its peak at past 5 a.m., when Army Chief Hermogenes Esperon confirmed in a TV interview that a coup attempt had been foiled and that he himself had been asked to join.

Not long afterward, Senga told GMA-7  that there was "an attempted withdrawal of support by some misguided elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines," but that those who were part of the attempt were "persuaded not to continue with their plans." He also confirmed that he was invited to join the plot by Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, the chief of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion in Bulacan. Lim who was a leading member of the Young Officers Union that led the siege of Makati during the attempted coup d’etat against President Corazon Aquino in 1989. He has been put under military custody for his role in today’s destabilization attempt.

Senga assured citizens that the majority of the armed forces did not intend to participate in the move against Mrs. Arroyo. Like Esperon, he confirmed that feelers had been sent to him and other senior officers to join the "withdrawal of support."

Esperon said that rebel soldiers had intended to take part in protest actions marking the 20th anniversary of the people power revolt that were scheduled for today.  Military sources say that the rebels planned to announce their "withdrawal of support" during masses marking the Edsa anniversary this morning. As a result, the police announced this morning that it was withdrawing the permits for the rallies scheduled today.

President Arroyo is in Malacañang, which has been sealed off to the public by several rings of defenses, including container vans that were brought in early this morning. Even journalists were told to leave the Palace grounds.

Former President Joseph Estrada provided a side show, when he refused police orders to leave the San Juan Medical Center where he had been confined since last night for a scheduled eye operation today. Apparently informed that Estrada was supportive of the plot, the police had decided to bring him back to his detention camp in a Tanay, Rizal resthouse. Estrada, however, refused and his son, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, threatened people power to prevent the police from transferring his father from the hospital.

7 Responses to On the 20th anniversary of Edsa,
attempt to unseat Arroyo thwarted

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INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories » Three generations of military rebels

February 24th, 2006 at 10:47 am

[…] IF THE best-laid plans of military rebels had not been waylaid in the wee hours of Friday morning, Filipinos would have woken up today to find a few hundred fully armed soldiers marching toward the people power monument in Edsa  to announce their "withdrawal of support" from the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. There, they would meet with civilian supporters and force the government to its knees. […]

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INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories » A brief history of states of emergency in the Philippines

February 24th, 2006 at 10:52 am

[…] THE possibility of declaring a state of emergency is being considered by Malacañang following the aborted plot to unseat Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo early this morning. Should Arroyo, who is anticipated to appear on national television anytime soon, go ahead with such a declaration, it will be the second time that she will be exercising such power vested in her as Commander-in-Chief (Art. VII, Sec. 18, 1987 Constitution). […]

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LadyL

February 24th, 2006 at 1:33 pm

I found it very hard to believe that Hermogenes Esperon, who is closely identified with Gloria, and who was named in the Hello-Garci scandal, was asked by this group of idealist and patriotic members of the military to join them. It just doesn’t add up to me. However, just like his bogus commander in thief, he is full of it.

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INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories » 1017 at the Oarhouse

April 10th, 2006 at 6:09 pm

[…] Many of the pictures show the police bearing down hard on the protesters, especially near the Edsa shrine, on Feb. 24, the 20th anniversary of the first people power revolt, when Proclamation 1017 declaring a state of emergency, was signed. Many images chronicle the Marine standoff at Fort Bonifacio on Feb. 26. […]

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INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories » ‘Hello, Garci’ general now AFP chief of staff

July 14th, 2006 at 7:34 am

[…] Esperon and Senga stood by the President during the February 24 failed coup attempt. Esperon was the one who recommended for the conduct of court martial against the alleged coup plotters, led by Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim. […]

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INSIDE PCIJ » SC rules in favor of Batasan 6; scores DOJ for lack of impartiality

June 1st, 2007 at 8:48 pm

[…] Early in 2006, two witnesses alleged that Beltran and the five representatives met with Magdal√≥ member 1st Lieutenant Lawrence San Juan in Padre Garcia, Batangas, days before the foiled coup attempt in February 2006. […]

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The Daily PCIJ » Blog Archive » DOJ probe on rebellion case ’substantially flawed’

November 13th, 2007 at 6:15 am

[…] grounds that there was no valid complaint-affidavit. The 49 were alleged to have taken part in the coup attempt last February […]

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