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Riots End in the Philippines

May 2, 2001

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Manila residents awoke under a government-declared ``state of rebellion″ Wednesday, more stunned than reassured after police quelled riots that left at least six dead.

Relative calm returned to Manila’s always-chaotic streets. But residents expressed fear of more violence and shock at the bloodshed as supporters of ousted President Joseph Estrada clashed with security forces at the presidential palace. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared the state of rebellion _ two constitutional steps short of martial law.

``I hope they will not provoke me to declare martial law,″ Arroyo told a news conference, threatening swift response to any attempt to rekindle Tuesday’s violent protests.

Arroyo ordered police to break up any group of more than five people near the palace. She earlier ordered the arrests of 11 opposition leaders, four of whom were in custody Wednesday on accusations of inciting riots. Arroyo said some business leaders accused of financing Estrada’s supporters also will be arrested.

Morning shoppers and commuters watched storefront television sets showing highlights of the clashes. Police fired warning shots, water cannons and tear gas against rioters armed with clubs and stones. Five civilians and one policeman were killed and more than 100 injured.

``That was scary,″ said Archie Beltran, a 31-year-old hairdresser. ``I hope we don’t have to see that again. Those were real riots.″

He said Filipinos, who take pride in the peacefulness of rebellions that overthrew late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Estrada earlier this year, may be reconsidering the possibility of peaceful revolution.

``These mass demonstrations are a dangerous precedent,″ said Willy Tobias, a 42-year-old engineer. ``The best thing that could happen is that Filipinos realize that change doesn’t come overnight.″

Newspapers carried banner headlines announcing the declaration of the state of rebellion _ which gives police the authority to make arrests without warrants and affords extra power to Arroyo’s government.

Opposition Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, an outspoken Estrada ally, filed a petition with the Supreme Court on Wednesday to stop police from arresting her without a warrant on accusations of fomenting rebellion.

``Philippine democracy is now in its death throes with this latest act of President Arroyo,″ she said. ``I am not afraid. Under this dictatorship, the detention cell is a place of honor.″

Prominent opposition Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former Estrada spokesman Ernesto Maceda were among those arrested. Police are seeking others, including former national police chief Panfilo Lacson and Sen. Gregorio Honasan.

National Security Adviser Roilo Golez said the government may order the arrest of two of Estrada’s sons, Jose Victor Ejercito and Jude Estrada, on accusations of inciting the crowd to violence. They have denied the charges.

Another son, Jinggoy Estrada, is in jail with Estrada, also on charges of plunder. Estrada and his son, arrested a week ago on the capital offense, were flown Tuesday to a special detention center 40 miles south of Manila.

Financial markets rallied Wednesday as peace was restored, with the main stock market index closing 4.1 percent higher and the peso significantly stronger against the dollar.

Update hourly