MANILA, Mar 7 (AP): President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo warned Tuesday that she would not hesitate to use emergency powers again to fight groups seeking her ouster, after imposing a weeklong emergency to quash an alleged coup attempt.
Arroyo said that the conspiracy by left-wing and right-wing groups that the government quelled last week would have destroyed democracy in the Philippines if it had triumphed.
"The laws are there and, as I said when I lifted the state of emergency, I am monitoring events and I will not hesitate to do what needs to be done to uphold the law," Arroyo said in an interview with GMA radio, which was broadcast nationwide.
Arroyo imposed the emergency on Feb. 24 and withdrew it on Friday, expressing confidence order had been restored. She said she needed the emergency decree to thwart an alleged coup plot involving communist rebels, "misguided" soldiers, opposition politicians and businessmen.
"I am a strong believer in democratic principles," Arroyo said. "But I also believe that we should stop people who abuse their freedoms and install groups that will one day destroy those very freedoms - the communists who conspire with the extreme right."
"We showed how strong and stable our government was," she said.
"We moved swiftly and we averted violence."
Leftist groups have vowed to continue protests and call for Arroyo's ouster over corruption and vote-rigging allegations.
In the wake of the emergency decree - which gave the government powers to ban rallies, arrest people without warrants and crack down on media - a left-wing lawmaker has been arrested and charged with rebellion. Five other left-wing legislators are under virtual house arrest at the Congress compound.
The commander of the army's elite Scout Rangers, the chief of the police Special Action Force, and the commandant of the Philippine marines have been relieved of their posts on suspicion they were involved in the plot that was to have been carried out during last week's 20th anniversaryof the "people power" revolt that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Police also had raided the opposition newspaper Daily Tribune, but stopped short of closing it.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments as part of seven petitions seeking to declare Arroyo's decree unconstitutional.
Solicitor General Alfredo Benipayo argued Monday that questions about Arroyo's proclamation have become moot since the decree was lifted. He said the proclamation did not clip or suspend any rights and had a clear basis in the constitution.
In the interview, Arroyo said she wanted to work with political opponents but will not wait for their response.
"I am not withdrawing my call for unity, but I will not use up all my time and energy for that because I need to also pay attention to the economy."