May 3, 2006

Manila court upholds Arroyo’s emergency rule

BAGUIO CITY (Reuters) - The Philippine Supreme Court has
upheld President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's declaration of
emergency rule after the discovery of an alleged coup, but
criticized her harsh action against the media and protesters.

"The court rules presidential proclamation 1017 is
constitutional," Ismael Khan, the high court's spokesman, told
reporters in Baguio City, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

But the country's top court said deploying the military to
crackdown on non-violent actions was unconstitutional.

During the week of emergency rule, ending on March 3. an
opposition newspaper was raided, soldiers were sent to watch
over two television stations and several people were detained
without charge.

Arroyo declared the state of emergency after her security
forces said they had foiled plot by renegade soldiers and
leftwing foes to overthrow the government.

The emergency rule was widely criticized by human rights
groups and Arroyo's foes who said the action smacked of martial
law under late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

"The court recognized the right of the government to defend
itself from perceived threats," Earl Parreno, an analyst for
the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, told

"But, the court was also right when it questioned how the
government used its powers, defending press freedom and civil

Opposition groups who brought the case had argued in court
that the emergency order denied them their civil liberties.

The state countered that any setback to human rights was
due to the military and police implementing the order

Last week, the Supreme Court struck down Arroyo's order to
break up street protests as she faced a political crisis.

Earlier in April, the court said another Arroyo order,
which had prevented government officials from attending
congressional hearings, was unconstitutional.

(Reporting by Manny Mogato and Rosemarie Francisco)