Mammoth rally set on July 13
The calls of various sectors and classes for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign have widened the rift between the ruling elite and have hastened her impending ouster. But militant groups say these will never be enough to kick out the President from Malacañang without the people’s concerted action.
BY DABET CASTAÑEDA
With President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo desperately clinging on to the palace seat, militant groups this week said no amount of resignation calls from former allies and influential leaders would be enough to kick her out of Malacañang.
Instead, said Renato Reyes, secretary general of the nationwide sectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance), “the people’s action would decide Macapagal-Arroyo’s fate.” He said that the Filipino people today do not limit themselves to constitutional means in resolving the impasse.
“People power becomes justified if it becomes necessary,” he added.
Bayan is set to lead a mammoth rally on July 13 in the country’s financial capital, Makati City, along with the anti-Arroyo opposition parties, Bangon Pilipinas, supporters of presidential aspirant Fernando Poe, Jr. and other political forces.
Major urban centers across the country are also expected to hold mass actions to press for the president’s removal, it was learned.
Farmers belonging to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) from Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Eastern Visayas and other regions will cease farm production starting July 11. They will join a caravan that would culminate in the big rally in Makati.
Protesters aboard 200 vehicles coming from the regions are expected to add to at least 50,000 rallyers on that day.
Meanwhile, Maita Santiago, Migrante International secretary general, said that July 13 will be a global protest as thousands of overseas Filipino workers will also hold their own rallies in as many countries. The OFW protests will be led by the newly-formed group Outrage, a broad alliance of migrant workers, families and advocates calling for the president’s resignation.
The beleaguered President announced via a taped radio broadcast July 8, 6 p.m. that she is not resigning her post even after 10 of her cabinet officials publicly announced their resignation in a press conference that morning at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Manila. They have called on the President to resign as well.
The cabinet resignation that included the president’s economic team – Cesar Purisima (Finance), Emilia Boncodin (Budget), Juan Santos (Trade) and Guillermo Parayno (Internal Revenue) – made way for the business community led by the Makati Business Club (MBC) to call for the President’s resignation.
Later at noon, the Liberal Party led by Senate President Franklin Drilon also expressed its call for Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation.
The pivotal move that same day was the press conference of former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino calling for Macapagal-Arroyo to do a “supreme sacrifice” by tendering her immediate resignation.
The influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is set to announce its position early this week.
But the calls of the groups and individuals only proposed nothing more than a constitutional succession that would mean having Vice President Noli de Castro as the country’s next president.
However, Bayan’s Reyes said this move would make the impression that the ouster of Macapagal-Arroyo is only an “affair of the elite” and is only poised to “defuse mass actions.”
Bayan Muna (BM – people first) Rep. Teodoro Casiño, in a press conference at noon on the same day, said that after Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation or ouster, it will no longer be “business as usual of replacing the president and everything else remains the same.”
Instead, he said, there will be a council which will consist of representatives of the basic sectors of workers and peasants, the anti-Arroyo opposition, church, academe, professionals and retired military and police officers who uphold civilian supremacy.
This will lead to the transition government to institute the necessary reforms, said Casiño.
The BM party-list congressman said that constitutional successor Noli de Castro may or may not be included in the council or may retain his position, but the leadership will remain with the transition council. Casiño said the council is important as they see that “by himself (de Castro), he cannot institute changes in the system.”
Gabriela Women’s Party Liza Maza, however, said that de Castro should first withdraw his support to the president.
Meanwhile, the board of directors of the independent think tank Ibon Foundation issued a statement on July 8 that a “representative governing council” that will replace Macapagal-Arroyo must ensure the democratic participation of the majority classes and sectors in the country.
“Installing another politician will not make a difference and will only worsen the political instability and economic crisis,” the Ibon statement said.
In a statement, BM’s National Executive Council said that the council “should pursue political, economic and social reforms demanded by the people, especially the exploited and oppressed sectors of society.”
Among the most urgent tasks of the council Bayan Muna enumerated were: “1) the conduct of full and thorough investigation into the involvement and culpability of the former President Arroyo, Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcilliano, military officials and others involved in fraud and deceit in the 2004 elections; 2) Prosecute cases of graft and corruption involving the First Family and other government officials in all levels; 3) put in place meaningful electoral and political reforms; 4) render justice and indemnify victims of human rights violations and ensure the respect and protection of civil liberties; 5) resume the peace process with Muslim and Communist revolutionary groups by fulfilling all existing agreements; 6) solve the fiscal criss by canceling or repudiating the country’s odious and onerous debts; 7) protect the country from the ravages of free market globalization and reversing the disastrous
structural adjustment programs imposed by the country’s foreign creditors.”