Arroyo could declare emergency again

March 8, 2006 at 5:13 AM

MANILA, Philippines, March 8 (UPI) -- Philippines President Gloria Arroyo said she will not hesitate to impose emergency measures again if needed, despite a court challenge by her opponents.

"There are those who have criticized me about freedom. But if the communists and rebel soldiers take over, the people should realize that they would take away our freedom," Arroyo said in an interview with GMA radio station Tuesday.

It was her first media interview since she announced a controversial state of emergency on Feb. 24, which she lifted on Friday.

The president later told reporters she was willing to sit down with her political foes to try and defuse the crisis, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

Arroyo said she had taken emergency powers to foil a coup plot by an alliance of opposition politicians, extreme leftists and military officers.

Tuesday her critics filed a legal challenge with the Supreme Court, asking that the emergency decree be declared unconstitutional. A ruling is likely to take weeks.

Two subcommittees have been formed in the senate to investigate possible unconstitutional acts committed under the emergency decree, such as arrests without warrants and violations of freedom of speech.

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