Coup attempt from a hotel

Published : Dec 21, 2007 00:00 IST

Members of the police Special Action Force take position behind an armoured personnel carrier as they start their assault on the Peninsula Hotel in Manila on November 29. - PAT ROQUE/AP

Members of the police Special Action Force take position behind an armoured personnel carrier as they start their assault on the Peninsula Hotel in Manila on November 29. - PAT ROQUE/AP

Members of the

THE Philippine President, Gloria Arroyo, imposed a curfew on the night of November 29 after troops stormed a luxury hotel in Manila to quash a coup attempt by renegade soldiers. The rebel soldiers and their supporters including several Roman Catholic priests were led away in handcuffs to be charged after about 1,500 troops smashed their way into the Peninsula Hotel in the capital using an armoured personnel carrier backed by sustained bursts of automatic fire and teargas grenades.

There were no reports of any injuries despite the gunfire, and the rebel ringleaders who demanded Arroyos resignation surrendered, claiming that they feared a bloodbath among the hundreds of journalists who had crowded into the hotel before the arrival of the soldiers outside.

Coup leaders allowed guests at the hotel to leave after initially denying them the chance to go. The group of about 30 soldiers and their supporters barricaded themselves in a second-floor conference room from where they broadcast live their demands on national television. Arroyo appeared on television shortly afterwards to assure people that she was in control and that she commanded the Armys loyalty.

The abortive coup was the third in the six-year reign of Arroyo, who was herself propelled to power when the Army backed street protests against her predecessor, the former movie star Joseph Estrada.

The latest coup attempt began when about two dozen soldiers left a court where they are on trial for another coup in 2003. It was an echo of the earlier incident, when troops took over the Oakwood shopping mall and hotel, rigging it with explosives.

The rebel soldiers walked out of the courtroom in the morning accompanied by their military police escort and marched a short distance to take over the Peninsula, a favourite watering hole of Manilas elite. The group was led by Senator Antonio Trillanes, the ringleader of the failed coup in 2003, who was elected in May while in detention.

They were joined by former Brigadier General Danilo Lim, who is suspected of involvement in a coup plot last year, as well as members of the Opposition and several clergy. As elite troops took up positions around the hotel in the capitals Makati financial district, the rebels were given a deadline to surrender, which they ignored. Instead, they issued an ultimatum that Arroyo resign, accusing her of electoral fraud and corruption and calling on comrades to join the coup.

Reports said troops loyal to the government blockaded some army barracks around the capital to prevent their movement.

The die is cast, said Danilo Lim. Thus we make this statement removing Arroyo from the Presidency and undertake the formation of a new government.

A little over an hour after the ultimatum passed, soldiers stormed the hotel. Those holed up inside soon gave themselves up. Antonio Trillanes, who had claimed the troops were acting out of a sense of duty to the public, said they did not want to put the lives of those inside at risk.

We are going out for the sake of the safety of everybody, he told journalists in the hotel. For your sake because we will not live with our conscience if some of you get hurt or get killed in the crossfire. We cant afford that.

Guardian News & Media 2007
Sign in to Unlock member-only benefits!
  • Bookmark stories to read later.
  • Comment on stories to start conversations.
  • Subscribe to our newsletters.
  • Get notified about discounts and offers to our products.
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment