27 July 2003 - Rather than a coup attempt, though that is what some political folks are still calling it, a group of somewhere between 100-200 malcontent soldiers have left their posts and set up around the Ayala Center here in Makati.
Their choice of venue happens to be Glorietta Mall and the surrounding businesses and hotels to make their demands (which I am still unsure of), and in order to ensure their own security, they have placed bombs around the area to dissuade the armed forces from approaching.
Makati is the central business district of Manila, and indeed of all the Philippines. This is where the wealthy come to live and work. The hotels and extended living residences are packed with expatriates, visitors and foreign officials. Thankfully, people residing in Oakwood (an extended-stay hotel located above the Ayala Center) including the Australian Ambassador were released early on. No one has been taken hostage, no one has been shot and no bombs have gone off. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has given the mutineers until 5 p.m. to stand down, but there reply has been a staunch “No way”. It’s a little odd to see our gas/service station and the roads around our neighborhood on CNN, blocked off by armored vehicles, trucks full of servicemen and lines of men in riot gear.
Actually, I do know one of their demands and why this is still being referred to as a coup attempt. The former president, Estrada, was kicked out for stealing billions of dollars from the government and Arroyo was put in his place to finish out his term. She hasn’t said whether she will run again (the Philippines has a single 6 year term so even her ability to run is in question), but these folks are loyal to Estrada and want him back as president.
Unfortunately, Ian has been called in to work.