MANILA, Philippines – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Wednesday she will keep a six-day-old state of emergency in place while awaiting reports on the aftermath of a foiled coup plot.
Arroyo imposed the emergency decree on Friday to quash a coup plot allegedly involving disgruntled soldiers, communist rebels and civilian backers.
"I want to lift the state of emergency at the soonest possible time," Arroyo said on national television.
She said that within three days her justice secretary will submit a report on moves to destabilize the government, the secretary of defense will report on control of the military and the national police chief will advise her on peace and order.
"I will remove the state of emergency once I am convinced that each official can assure me that we fully control the situation," she said.
The justice secretary said he was not ready to recommend lifting emergency laws because it wasn't clear that the threat to Arroyo's administration had been eliminated.
Arroyo, under intense criticism for her emergency declaration and alleged curtailment of civil liberties, said action had been necessary.
"The government moved to secure the safety and peace of the republic and we will end the state of emergency once we fully achieve these guidelines on destabilization, armed forces and the rule of law."
Opposition activists and civil libertarians claim her decree is unconstitutional and say they worry that a string of warrantless arrests, a ban on rallies and a raid on a critical newspaper are jeopardizing political freedoms and fanning unrest.
Most of the 23-member Senate, including some members allied with Arroyo, wore black armbands in a session late Wednesday to protest her emergency declaration. Several opposition senators said the move endangers democracy, and urged Filipinos to actively oppose it.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court deferred until next week a decision on at least four petitions challenging Arroyo's declaration.
Police earlier this week filed capital charges against 16 people, including left-wing lawmakers, military officers, a former senator and a communist rebel leader suspected of plotting to overthrow the president.
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales said he would not recommend the emergency laws be lifted yet. He said the Cabinet met Tuesday to review the crisis and decided to keep the decree in place, despite Arroyo's economic team saying it was damaging the country's image.