Philippine Marines Semper Fidelis--not
A marine colonel urged Filipinos on Sunday to protest the removal of the marines commander in the wake of a failed coup plot that prompted the government to declare a state of emergency.The coup was not much of a secret according to the AP:
Several leftist protest leaders rushed to the marine camp in suburban Manila in response to Col. Ariel Querubin's appeal. Three armored personnel carriers, a tank and some 300 marines also arrived, but it was unclear where their loyalties lay.
It was a sign that efforts to oust President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were alive two days after she imposed a state of emergency, saying a coup plot had been quashed but ''treasonous'' elements remained dedicated to forcing her out.
Lt. Col. Tristan Kison, a military spokesman, said Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda had asked to be relieved of his duties for personal reasons and insisted he was not involved in the plot to oust Arroyo.
But Querubin -- named by the military as a key figure in failed plans by marine officers and to withdraw support for Arroyo on Friday -- urged people to gather at the marine camp in support of Miranda.
''I'm going to join him at the headquarters and then we'll ... wait for all the people to really come here and protect us,'' Querubin said.
Querubin said the marines and other forces had planned to walk out of the camp Friday and withdraw support from Arroyo. He claimed a majority of the marine force was ready to go when they found the camp sealed in a security clampdown.
''The junior officers are really raring, they're so agitated, so I told them to avoid clashes and shooting, let us just march,'' he said.
The plan to oust President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had one major flaw: Everyone knew it was coming.
The presidential palace knew. The military knew. The press knew. Even an 11-year-old boy knew, right down to the date when it was to happen.
"Coup Friday, Feb. 24. Please pass on," he said in a cell phone text message to his brother.
So it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise that Mrs. Arroyo, who has battled through crisis after crisis during five tumultuous years in office, didn't just wait for it to happen.
First, she called in her military chiefs and persuaded them to remain loyal.
Details of the coup plan were leaked out over the past week and widely reported by the local press. Armed troops were to have left military camps around Manila on Friday morning and joined crowds commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 1989 "people power" revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, one of the Philippines' proudest moments.
It appears the hope was that the defections of junior officers and their followers would carry enough resonance with those marking the 1986 uprising -- when the military played a major role by withdrawing its support from Marcos -- that a critical mass would be reached to give birth to another round of "people power."