The people reclaim Mendiola

In a daring move that stunned Manila’s rabidly pro-Arroyo anti-riot policemen, marchers belonging to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and the People’s Movement Against Arroyo’s Charter Change (People’s March) marched to Mendiola Bridge, effectively breaking the long ban on the staging of protest actions in that hallowed ground.

I say “hallowed” because Mendiola had long been consecrated as a sacred place for people’s expression of protest against the government whose head is based at the other side of the bridge. The bridge simply symbolizes the yawning gap between the President and the people since many years ago. In fact, many lives of our finest youths and the most principled peasants right there on that bridge — a testimony on what the President could countenance just to protect his/her skin.

I myself have been to many Mendiola rallies. As a media officer for Bayan and later for Bayan Muna, it is quite usual to hold the culminating activity of protest actions on Mendiola, if only to highlight the accountability of the sitting President in the many problems the people face. Most of the rallies held on Mendiola have been peaceful and orderly.

For someone who first tasted the presidency by virtue of “people power”, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is showing extreme hubris for banning mass actions especially in Mendiola. Armed with Proclamation 1017 and/or Batas Pambansa 880, she has seen it fit to ban rallies and slander protests as mere part of a still-unproven “conspiracy” to institute a military junta via a coup.

The April 6 march to Mendiola, albeit foiled by a brutal police dispersal, is a sign of things to come. The 15-minute stint of the Bayan-People’s March on that historic bridge is a prelude to more protest actions as Mrs. Arroyo agitates the public even more with more of her lies, especially now that she and her minions are attempting to run over all of us with the self-serving Charter Change. Nobody is buying the “people’s initiative” line, if only Ignacio Bunye and Ronnie Puno would really care.

The more Arroyo restricts the people from going to Mendiola or anywhere else to stage protest actions, the more she is agitating the populace into exploding in yet another uprising so loud and so strong it will drown out all her lies and remove her from the presidency she has usurped since 2004.

Photo courtesy of Arkibong Bayan. In photo: ACT Chair Tonchi Tinio, Gabriela Spokesperson Lana Linaban, Anakpawis Secretary-General Cherry Clemente, Kadamay Chair Carmen “Nanay Mameng” Deunida, Agham Founding Member Engr. Ramon Ramirez and KMU Chair Bong Labog.

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