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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Arroyo on defensive
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Arroyo ordered the arrest of several political figures
By Clare Arthurs in Bangkok

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was this week planning to continue marking her first 100 days in office with a major speech and a series of interviews.


Warnings of the wrath of God and prayers for peace appear to be latest weapons in the Arroyo arsenal

But instead of celebrating her hold on power, she's defending it. She's already unlocked the weapons cabinet and begun lifting out an array of arms.

The political impact of the very public arrest of the former President, Joseph Estrada, clearly backfired.

The tension which was building up as his impending arrest drew closer duly erupted when TV pictures of him being taken into custody were shown.

The response was quick and brutal, with security forces clashing with the protesters surging on the presidential palace.

Mrs Arroyo declared she had no tolerance for people jeopardising the peace.

Decisive style

It was the same forceful and decisive style which, early in her administration, helped get ceasefires with Muslim rebels and communist fighters.

And while some analysts question whether Mrs Arroyo underestimates the forces she's up against, she's continuing her tough stand.

She's upgraded the response to demonstrators - no longer tolerated, but facing immediate arrest.

Joseph Estrada
It is not known whether Estrada will receive a fair trial
After warning coup plotters against conspiracies, she swiftly ordered the arrest of several military and political figures.

Her administration has been keen to put a just face on its use of the law.

There have been reassurances that Mr Estrada will receive a fair trial.

And to reinforce her attempts to hold the moral high ground, one of her most powerful supporters - Cardinal Jaime Sin - has told a gathering of her supporters that Mr Estrada's backers are to blame for inciting the poor to riot.

Warnings of the wrath of God and prayers for peace appear to be latest weapons in the Arroyo arsenal.

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See also:

01 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines president scents coup
01 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Picture gallery: Manila demonstrations
01 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: 'People power' politics
25 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Jailed Estrada defiant
25 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
What next for Estrada?
25 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada speaks to BBC from prison
10 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada: Movie hero or villain?
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