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Suppose they gave a coup and nobody came?

A military group takes over a hotel, but no public support materializes.

Associated Press
Published November 30, 2007


MANILA, Philippines - A group of disaffected military officers took over a swank hotel Thursday, demanded the president quit, then quickly gave up when it became clear the public wouldn't transform their protest into another round of Philippine "people power."

Four years ago, the same officers tried to do the same thing at another upscale hotel a few blocks away. The result was nearly the same too, though President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo - clearly miffed that she is still dogged by attempts to oust her - showed less tolerance this time, dispatching troops and police SWAT teams.

The real story was the growing public apathy for efforts to oust Arroyo, and her opponents' inability to foster a third "people power" revolt like the ones that ousted her predecessor, Joseph Estrada, in 2001, and strongman Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

It's not that Arroyo is more popular; just the opposite is true with yet another round of corruption allegations dogging her government. At least three previous coup plots and three impeachment attempts have plagued Arroyo's seven years in power, but each has drawn fewer people to the streets.

After commandeering a room at the hotel and stationing their own armed guards, the leftists frantically tried to mobilize backing. Few people showed up on a dreary, drizzly day.

Less than 90 minutes after a deadline to surrender expired, security forces started moving in. Surrender followed quickly.

"There's no loss here," said Antonio Trillanes, a former navy officer who helped lead the attempted coup. "If somebody lost here, it's the whole nation."

[Last modified November 30, 2007, 01:55:05]

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