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Trillanes, Lim walk out of court, call for Arroyo ouster

(Updated 2:10 p.m.) Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Brigadier Gen. Danilo Lim walked out of a Makati City courtroom and called upon the Filipino people to withdraw support from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Lim, who faces court martial proceedings in connection with the uprising on February 24 last year, was testifying on the coup d'etat case against the Magdalo Group when the incident occurred. Asked what they were clamoring for, Trillanes said: "Bumaba sa puwesto [si Arroyo]. Tama na ang pahirap as bayan (That Gloria Arroyo step down. The hardships of the nation are too much)." Mrs Arroyo took over the presidency when predecessor Joseph Estrada was ousted in the country's second ''people power'' revolt in January 2001, and opponents have criticized the legitimacy of her rule ever since. She also has been fighting allegations that she rigged the 2004 elections that gave her a six-year term. ''We tried to restore legitimacy, but she used naked power ... to frustrate us,'' Lim said. ''We should use all we can to prevent the sliding back into corruption. We are withdrawing support from this government and other units will also do so.'' For his part, Lim said: "With all the avenues closed, no other means remain but for the officers of the AFP and the PNP to exercise their constitutional mandate ... against this unjust and illegitimate president." Lim served as negotiator during the height of the Oakwood Mutiny, which was launched by Trillanes and the Magdalo Group on July 27, 2003. He was summoned as a witness for the defense panel over the Oakwood incident. Judge Oscar Pimentel of the Makati RTC-Branch 148 is the magistrate handling the coup d'etat case. The group of Trillanes and Lim marched with about 50 people, including armed men in military uniforms who wore the Magdalo insignia on their arms, the Manila Peninsula Hotel also in Makati. Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr, a staunch critic of President Arroyo, and Argee Guevarra, lawyer for the Laban ng Masa group, also marched with the soldiers. "This march is a march for freedom and the assertion of the people's rights," Guingona said. He said later in the day that, "Ito ang bagong EDSA, ito ang bagong People Power (This is the new EDSA, this is the new People Power). Let us all unite, let us not be afraid," Guingona said at a press conference at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City. Two Catholic bishops critical of the Arroyo administration went to the Manila Peninsula hotel, where Trillanes and Lim proceeded after the march. Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias, Infanta Bishop Emeritus Julio Labayen as well as Fr. Robert Reyes were seen going into the Rizal function room at the hotel's second floor where Trillanes and Lim held a closed-door meeting, separate reports said. Journalists were barred from entering the meeting room, and were told to stay at the third floor lobby. Trillanes' group assured journalists will be given updates. In a separate interview with GMA Flash Report, Trillanes appealed for popular support. "Ito po ay panawagan ng pagbabago. Ang naniniwala po na dapat tayo makaahon sa kahirapan, pumunta na po kayo sa Makati (This is a call for change. All those who believe that we should rise from poverty, join us and come here in Makati)," Trillanes said. GMA News Flash Report said Trillanes used his cell phone several times and was apparently talking with some people in the "Armed Forces." It was not clear what the nature of these phone conversations were. Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro downplayed the actions of Trillanes and Lim, even as he continued monitoring radio reports about developments in Makati City. "Wala namang problema (It's no problem), they are just giving their statement," Bacarro told GMANews.TV in a telephone interview. Bacarro confirmed that Lim and Trillanes' escorts are still with them. "Kasama ang escorts (The escorts are with them). Their escorts continue to guard them," Bacarro said. When asked if this action was sanctioned by or was coordinated with the military, Bacarro said: "I will check." - GMANews.TV