President Macapagal-Arroyo meets with Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr., National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director Gen. Arturo Lomibao, and other members of the national security cluster in Malacañang to discuss an alleged power grab by the political opposition, the extreme Left represented by the National Democratic Front, Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army, and the extreme Right, represented by military adventurists. Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin are relieved of their posts.

The President issues Proclamation 1017, placing the country under a state of national emergency, due to growing talks of a coup attempt and other destabilization plots. UP professor and political activist Randy David and AKBAYAN leader Ronald Llamas are arrested after leading some 5,000 protesters to the EDSA Shrine to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the People Power Revolution.

Police raids the Daily Tribune and confiscates documents allegedly related to destabilization plots. Government troops are deployed near the offices of broadcast giants ABS-CBN and GMA 7. The National Telecommunications Commission announces that it will revoke the license of any broadcast company that violates government media standards.

Disgruntled Marines led by Col. Querubin protest, in Fort Bonifacio, the relief of their commandant Major General Renato Miranda, who Malacañang says has asked to be relieved. It is not known if Miranda had joined the conspiracy. Querubin calls on the people to protect the Marines, and opposition stalwarts rush to Fort Bonifacio. The six-hour standoff ends when the new Commandant, Brig. Gen. Nelson Allaga declares that the Marines are solidly behind the chain of command.

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The PNP files capital charges of sedition against 16 people, including party-list representatives Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Rafael Mariano, Teodoro Casiño, Crispin Beltran, and Joel Virador, Army lieutenant Lawrence San Juan, and several other military officers. Ocampo, Maza, Mariano, Casiño, and Virador are later turned over to the Batasang Pambansa as requested by House Speaker Jose de Venecia for protective custody.

David and 17 lawyers’ organizations under the umbrella of the Alternative Law Groups Inc., the Daily Tribune led by editor-in-chief and publisher Niñez Cacho-Olivares, and former senator Loren Legarda, file separate petitions before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the proclamation. The Supreme Court orders Arroyo to explain the basis for the proclamation in a hearing scheduled on March 7. Media unrest continues as journalists and media organizations in the Philippines warn about the implications of Proclamation 1017 on press freedom.

Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno, led by its legal counsel Remigio Saladero, joins various groups and personalities in challenging the constitutionality of Proclamation 1017 by filing a petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Supreme Court.

Opposition lawmakers, led by House Minority Floor Leader Francis Escudero and several lawyers’ groups, including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), pass separate petitions asking the Supreme Court to declare Proclamation 1017 unconstitutional. The lawmakers, through lawyer Pacifico Agabin, said the high court should compel Arroyo to admit to Congress that Proclamation 1017 is a declaration of martial law.

Some 300 lawyers and law students led by members of the IBP march to the EDSA Shrine to protest the declaration of the state of emergency, the first time since 1986 that lawyers as a group have staged a protest. The protesters bore “No to Proclamation 1017!” and “Respect Civil Liberties!” stickers on their chests and wore black armbands. Arroyo lifts Proclamation 1017 through Proclamation 1021, saying that the AFP and PNP “have effectively prevented, suppressed and quelled the acts lawless violence, and rebellion.” Olivarez and Daily Tribune columnists Ike Señeres and Herman Tiu-Laurel are charged with inciting to sedition.

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