MALAYA: From all sectors they come (to Ayala interfaith rally)

By ANTHONY IAN CRUZ
Malaya
March 1, 2008

DEFYING last-ditch scare tactics, a broad movement of groups seeking President Arroyo’s resignation yesterday mobilized tens of thousands of protesters at the interfaith rally at the Ninoy Aquino Monument in Makati City.

Organizers placed the crowd at 75,000 to 80,000. The police figure was 15,000.

Makati City Mayor and United Opposition president Jejomar Binay unleashed a minor political earthquake when he ended his opening remarks by calling on stage former Presidents Corazon Aquino, in her trademark yellow dress, and Joseph Estrada, in a red windbreaker.

Aquino and Estrada gave brief remarks before the crowd, in an apparent effort not to violate the agreed rally protocol that no politician would be allowed on stage, except for Binay who was tasked to deliver a welcome speech.

Aquino and Estrada sat beside each other on the makeshift stage.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said rally organizers saw the crowd peak at around 5 p.m., soon after marchers from various points in the country’s financial capital converged at Paseo de Roxas and Ayala avenue.

Reyes said the huge turnout represented “the strongest rejection yet of Mrs. Arroyo.”

“No single group or person claims credit in leading this initiative. No one is excluded and everybody, every group, made a contribution.

Mrs. Gloria Arroyo made this possible. Her bankrupt and corrupt regime provided the urgency for everyone to set aside their differences and struggle together for truth and justice,” Reyes said.

‘GOODBYE GLORIA’

Priests in white cassocks recited the rosary, university students shouted “Fight for Truth” and office workers from nearby high-rise buildings sprinkled confetti.

“Goodbye Gloria” and “Kick Out Gloria, Change the System” were among the hundreds of placards held up.

In the interfaith portion of the rally, representatives of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the Philippines for Jesus Movement and Jesus is Lord Movement alternated prayers, reflections and stinging rebukes against Arroyo.

Hundreds of green balloons were released at the end of the program to signify “that we are sending prayers to God,” said Fr. Joe Dizon of Church-based group Solidarity Philippines.

As in the rally last February 15, more protesters applauded and responded when speakers, including bishops, pastors and priests, raised calls for President Arroyo’s resignation.

‘WE’LL BE WATCHING’

In lieu of “inspirational remarks,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz led the protesters in shouting “Gloria resign!” several times.

Sister Mary John Mananzan, prioress of the OSB congregation in the Philippines and leader of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, drew applause for warning politicians aspiring to replace Arroyo that “we will watch you closely, make no mistake about it.”

“We’ve had had enough so expect the people to take action when necessary,” said Mananzan, who noted she was the only female religious onstage.

A big number of new faces joined the rally. The Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP) mobilized about 10,000 students from member schools, colleges and universities.

Leading the CEAP marchers was a throng of about 500 seminarians bearing an image of the Our Lady of Fatima.

Students from rival schools Ateneo and De La Salle marched together, along with those from Don Bosco in Manila, Mandaluyong and Makati; Adamson University; Sta. Isabel College, and Poveda.

VOICES, FACES

Students from these schools waved placards and shouted slogans reflecting the calls of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines: “No to EO 464!,” and “Don’t suppress the truth!”

The newly formed student coalition Youth Act Now! mobilized about 5,000 students from UP Manila, UP Diliman, PUP, FEU, Technological Institute of the Philippines and other universities.

Youth Act Now! solicited photos from students and they were flashed on giant screens near the central stage. Student leader Vencer Crisostomo said it aimed “to show the voices and faces of people who demand the truth and accountability.”

Followers of Bro. Eddie Villanueva numbered about 10,000 and came mostly in yellow t-shirts, ribbons and caps.

EVIL

Members of the Makati Business Club, led by executive director Alberto Lim, marched from the nearby Asian Institute of Management.

Faculty members of UP came in their “sablay,” the state university’s equivalent of the toga.

Also this time, the statue of slain senator Ninoy Aquino was not dressed up by flags. A placard was planted in his hands. “Gloria is evil,” it said.

Trade unionists from the Kilusang Mayo Uno carried hundreds of masks portraying the likeness of President Arroyo, but with horns, fangs and the word “evil.”

Latecomers include contingents from the Southern Tagalog region as well as two buses bearing students, faculty and administrators of De La Salle-Dasmariñas.

The Cavite-based La Sallians reported they were blocked at Daang Hari in Imus by a certain Col. Quilingen “for no apparent reason and without any traffic violation whatsoever” and were held for an hour before they were let go, according to La Sallian blogger Jhay Rocas.

Alphonse Rivera of the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns said “Gloria stinks!” He led about 200 kids in a march that paraded a “roleta” (roulette) showing the various means to force out Arroyo from office: oust, resign, out or impeach.

BRISK SALES

Also mobilizing but in smaller numbers were the Black and White Movement, Akbayan, Sanlakas and Laban ng Masa.

Vendors reported brisk sales of barbequed squid, mineral water and rally paraphernalia, especially t-shirts and pins bearing photos and quotations of star witness Rodolfo Noel “Jun” Lozada.

Performers included The Wuds and The Jerks, and new rap artist Peter Parker who drummed up interest among the predominantly youth crowd.

In a statement sent from his outpost in far-away Utrecht, The Netherlands, exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria Sison said “the magnitude of the protest mass actions today (will) indicate how close is the end of the Arroyo regime.”

“If the level of 50,000 to 100,000 protest demonstrators is reached at the focal point in the national capital region, then we can hope that in the near future we can reach the level of hundreds of thousands or a million demonstrators that will certainly persuade the bureaucracy and the military to withdraw support from the Arroyo regime,” Sison said. – With Reuters

5 Comments

  1. pacificislander

    IS THIS TRUE? HOW DO WE DEAL WITH IT? WILL THE SENATE DRAG THE INVESTIGATION?

    “…Also, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and PNP chief Director General Avelino Razon Jr. reiterated their support for the Commander-in-Chief…”
    “…If they (opposition) have supporters among the students, I’m sure the President has her share of supporters among the students, even among the religious who are teaching in the schools. If they’re talking of support… in terms of representation, the governors who represent large constituency… the mayors, the congressmen… they are among the more solid supporters of the President,” he said…”

    http://news.nabou.com/cgi-bin/newsframe/437892yks4328903Dnabou2BInews421789994asgw3798etys6787/18A8047A97056E4D9B2CDA039BFF5E58backheadline3DHow2Bdo2BI2Bcut2Ba2Boout3Fnews26o3D0/FrameIt.cgi?Url=http://c.moreover.com/click/here.pl?r1317990741

    “…Municipal mayors, governors and congressmen – in that order – trooped to Malacanang today in a show of force and support for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

    The early birds were the officers and members of the 1,510-strong League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) who presented to the President their manifesto of full and unconditional support for her administration…”

    http://www.gov.ph/news/?i=20201

    ALSO, WHERE WAS THE PROMISE OF LAND REFORM?

    ——————————————————————————–
    Delicious ideas to please the pickiest eaters. Watch the video on AOL Living.

  2. tonyo

    Don’t believe the propaganda of the government. It is the Palace that is sabotaging constitutional processes such as the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing.

    As to the statements by the top brass and LGUs, let’s just say they don’t speak for their subordinates and constituencies.

  3. pacificislander

    ARROYO BRAGS ABOUT ECONOMIC GROWTH AND THE STRENGTHENING OF THE PESO. BUT SHE DOESN’T GIVE CREDIT TO THE OFWs WHO SACRIFICE THEIR LIVES IN THE MIDDLE EAST, EUROPE, AMERICA, AND OTHER PARTS OF ASIA, WHO ARE THE REASON THE ECONOMY IS STILL HOLDING UP!

    HEAR ALL ABOUT IT!
    ———————

    HONG KONG OFW GROUPS CALL FOR ‘NO REMITTANCE DAY’ TO OUST GMA

    “Our money is not for corruption and plunder”

    Hong Kong, March 1 2008

    “Our money should not be used to support a most corrupt regime. No Remittance Day is our way of expressing: Enough with corruption. Enough with plundering our money..”

    This was announced today by Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK), in a protest action to call for the resignation of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in relation to her and her husband’s alleged involvement in the US$329.5 million NBN-ZTE scam.

    The said protest, added Balladares,was their contribution to the huge Interfaith Prayer Rally organized by major Churches, broad anti-corruption movements and militant groups including BAYAN held February 29.

    The group said that No Remittance Day is a call they will start to drumbeat in Hong Kong and later on to OFWs in other countries.

    “For a day each month starting March 2, we will call for a No Remittance Day to express our condemnation of the blatant corruption in the Philippines led by the First Couple. There is no way that OFWs will just sit down and let plunderers rob people’s money with impunity,” she declared.

    Balladares said that the call is an expression of civil disobedience of migrant workers whom she said, are gravely disgusted by the “shamelessness” of GMA and her camp to cover up the NBN-ZTE scandal, downplay the anomaly or “hypocritically discourage” people’s protests.

    “Our refusal to remit is our complete withdrawal of trust and confidence to this government. There is no relief for us in a regime that has only brought calamity after calamity to OFWs and our families,” she said.

    Balladares relayed that OFWs have had their share of getting “robbed” of their money and rights by the government including the various anomalies that hounded the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and even the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) that has issued policies that merely aim to collect more money from overseas Filipinos.

    For years, various OFW groups have called for an effective investigation on the OWWA Funds that many believed have been GMA’s “kitty fund” and were not used for concrete improvement of services and assistance to OFWs.

    Meanwhile, the recent POEA Memorandum Circular No. 04 that banned direct hiring and was deemed as another way for the government to collect funds, was suspended early his month after OFWs protested in many countries.

    “The NBN-ZTE scam is a brazen and grand heist. This we will never let pass especially now that OFWs are experiencing hardships just to make ends meet for the needs of our families,” she remarked.

    Balladares lamented the current situation of OFWs whose salary cannot keep up anymore with the dollar slide and high prices of commodities in the Philippines. This situation, she said, is even aggravated by the lack of actions of the GMA government to their issues and to the cases of distressed migrant workers such as the stranded OFWs in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    “GMA has no more credibility – moral, political and legal – to govern. There is no other more timely and appropriate demand but for her to resign or be forced to by people’s actions,” she said.

    Balladares reported that they will also set into motion a Text Brigade to encourage OFW family members and friends in the Philippines to join the action tomorrow.

    “Our money is best spent in what shall give us temporary relief from the grave issues we face. That is for the ouster of GMA,” she concluded.#

    (Note: March 2 is the first Sunday of the month. This is the period wherein most OFWs in Hong Kong remit to their families in the Philippines.)

    http://www.balitapinoy.net/default.asp?sourceid=&smenu=236&twindow=&mad=&sdetail=13360&wpage=1&skeyword=&sidate=&ccat=&ccatm=&restate=&restatus=&reoption=&retype=&repmin=&repmax=&rebed=&rebath=&subname=&pform=&sc=1696&hn=balitapinoy&he=.net

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