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Philippines 25 February 2006

Opposition paper’s office raided under state of emergency

Reporters Without Borders today voiced great concern at a raid on an opposition newspaper only hours after declaration of a national state of emergency, apparently in the face of a failed military coup.

“We deplore the state of emergency imposed by President Gloria Arroyo, who is using it as an excuse to crack down on the opposition,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “We fear a wave of arrests and closure of newspapers critical of the government.”

Police searched the premises of the opposition Daily Tribune on 25 February and seized written material. Left-wing coalition leader Crispin Beltran and several generals were also arrested.

The opposition, human rights activists and church leaders have strongly condemned the emergency and some politicians have called for Arroyo’s resignation. But media outlets were warned by the government shortly before the emergency was declared on 24 February not to broadcast these calls.

The crisis came 20 years to the day after the fall of President Ferdinand Marcos, on 25 February 1986. An anniversary march yesterday was banned by the government.

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