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The BBC's Damian Grammaticas
"The streets are calm again but the police say that the capital is in a state of rebellion"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 2 May, 2001, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Philippines president widens crackdown
About 20,000 Estrada supporters gathered on Monday
Protests triggered some of the worst riots for 15 years
The authorities in the Philippines have arrested a former Philippine ambassador to the US for allegedly helping to plot violent riots aimed at toppling President Gloria Arroyo.

These are politically motivated charges based on hate and vengeance

Ernesto Maceda
The arrest of Ernesto Maceda, a former Senate president and spokesman for ousted president Joseph Estrada, comes as part of a widening crackdown by Mrs Arroyo following a bloody siege on the presidential palace on Monday night.

On Tuesday, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and two other senators were arrested for their alleged involvement in some of the worst street riots in 15 years in Manila, which were sparked off by Mr Estrada's arrest on corruption charges last week.

We continue the hunt for the power grabbers... We will arrest them and... make them pay for their crimes

Gloria Arroyo
Both Mr Maceda and Mr Enrile have denied involvement in plotting to storm the palace.

"At 66 years old, with a heart ailment and a diabetic, there is no rhyme or reason for me to engage in any stressful political adventurism," Mr Maceda said in the statement.

Mrs Arroyo has declared a "state of rebellion", two steps away from martial law, which allows her to call in the army.

A former vice-president who came to power in January following a popular uprising in the streets led by Manila's middle class, she has said she would not allow any demonstrations in central Manila.

More arrests

Arrest orders have also been issued for several other opposition figures, including former national police chief Panfilo Lacson and Senator Miriam Santiago.

Gloria Arroyo, President of the Philippines
Arroyo warned opponents not to provoke her
Mrs Arroyo has claimed they were trying to "bring down the legitimate government so they could set up their own junta."

She said she would not impose martial law, but added she could reconsider.

"I hope they don't provoke me," she said.

Tense night

Don't shoot the people, they are unarmed

Joseph Estrada
The march to the palace on Monday began from a Manila religious shrine about 15 km (nine miles) away, where tens of thousands of Estrada supporters had been holding a protest vigil.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Manila said at the height of the standoff, up to 20,000 protesters had clogged the streets leading to the palace.

Former president Joseph Estrada
Jailed Estrada was moved into a high security cell
The authorities say the toll of those killed in the protests has risen to four - three protesters and one policemen.

Leading the protests, Mr Estrada's son Joseph Victor Ejercito told the BBC that the march had not been organised, but the people were "mad" and could not be stopped.

The jailed former leader is now staying at a special police camp outside Manila where a special detention centre has been constructed for him.

He is in custody facing a charge of economic plunder which carries a possible death sentence.

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See also:

01 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines acts to crush 'plot'
01 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines president scents coup
01 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Picture gallery: Manila demonstrations
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
01 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo on defensive
02 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Estrada hot topic for Manila press
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