Philippines Prez Ends State of Emergency

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo lifted a week-old state of emergency on Friday, after her security advisers assured her that the threat of a coup has eased.

She made the announcement in a nationally televised address.

Arroyo declared the emergency last Friday to quash a coup plot allegedly involving disgruntled soldiers, communist rebels and civilian backers. On Thursday, the defense, justice and police chiefs said they would recommend lifting the decree because the situation was normalizing.

Opposition and civil activists have warned that political freedoms were being eroded.

Authorities have filed criminal charges against at least 51 opposition members, military personnel and others for trying to overthrow the president. They include five left-wing lawmakers who sought refugee at the House of Representatives and refused to be interviewed by police.

Civil libertarians, lawyers, businessmen and media groups have expressed concerns over a string of warrantless arrests, a ban on rallies and a raid on a critical newspaper.