Filipino senator Antonio Trillanes in this television grad speaks Thursday Nov. 29, 2007 during a television interview shortly after they surrendered to authorities "to save lives of civilians and journalists" inside Manila Peninsula hotel where they were holed out. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
MAKATI CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 29, 2007) – Rebel soldiers calling for President Gloria Arroyo’s resignation have surrendered peacefully to authorities late Thursday afternoon ending hours of uprising at a posh hotel in the Philippines’ main business district of Makati.
Heavily-armed members of the Philippine National Police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), backed by armored vehicles, fired tear gas inside the Manila Peninsula hotel in an effort to flush out rebel soldiers and civilians supporting them.
One armored vehicle broke into the hotel main entrance and fired more tear gas forcing journalists to seek cover.
Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes and Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim led a group of soldiers and civilian supporters to a long march that ended in Manila Peninsula hotel in Makati where they called for Arroyo’s resignation.
Among those who joined Trillanes and Lim was former Philippine Vice President Teofisto Guingona and leaders of civil society groups opposed to Arroyo’s rule.
Both Trillanes and Lim were implicated in previous attempt to oust Arroyo, who they accused of corruption and fraud in the May 2004 elections.
Trillanes and Lim said they decided to end the stand-off to save the lives of civilians, including journalists inside the hotel. “This only shows how cruel this administration of Arroyo that they would sacrifice the lives of civilians and journalists,” Trillanes said.
Police also arrested at least ten journalists who were covering the stand-off inside the hotel and seized their equipment, including video cameras.
Television footages showed journalists coming out the room where Trillanes and Lim were holed out with their hands raised in the air.
Police spokesman Superintendent Samuel Pagdilao said the journalists would be held for questioning. He did not elaborate.
Philippine military chief General Hermogenes Esperon vowed Thursday to crush an uprising in Manila.
“We are trying to make plans here. I want to appeal for calmness and for the public not to allow to be hoodwinked by these people, Trillanes and Lim. We must not allow them to grab power,” Esperon said.
Esperon was in Zamboanga City visiting troops when news of the uprising broke out in a middle of meeting at the Western Mindanao Command headquarters.
Trillanes and Lim have urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to withdraw its support from the Arroyo administration.
Government spokesmen taunted Guingona, saying, he was too frail to be jailed.
Guingona is one or Arroyo’s most vocal critic and had previously joined protest rallies in Manila. (Mindanao Examiner)