MANILA — Outside Metro Manila, thousands converged in other key cities across the country to denounce the Arroyo regime for the poverty, corruption, deception and repression in the Philippines.
In Bicol region, more than 17,000 joined the simultaneous protest actions in Masbate, Sorsogon, Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur and Naga City. More than 500 students of Ateneo de Naga walked out of their classes to join the protest.
At least 1,000 peasants, workers, youth and professionals joined from different parts of Southern Tagalog joined the six-day Lakbayan (People’s March). The Southern Tagalog contingent braved the heat and the rain to join the protests at the Commonwealth Avenue during Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (Sona).
In Arroyo’s home province of Pampanga, the local chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan held a forum at the Holy Family Academy in Angeles City. After the forum, the participants marched toward the city’s Plaza Miranda.
In other provinces of Central Luzon such as Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Tarlac, Zambales, Bataan, and Aurora, protest actions were also held.
In the North, the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) led a rally at the People’s Park. Anti-Sona protest was also held in La Union. The protesters denounced the offshore mining in in the province and held Arroyo accountable for the hardships of the fisherfolk.
In Santiago, Isabela, a rally was organized by the United Action Kontra Cha-cha (United Action Against Charter Change).
In Cebu City, about 1,000 marched toward Colon. Yellow ribbons were distributed but the protesters said it had nothing to do with a dying ex-president, Cory Aquino, but in keeping with the true spirit of people power. In his speech, Bayan’s Jaime Paglinawan said that Cebu is not a GMA country.
Transport group Nagkahiusang Drayber sa Sugbo (Nadsu) continued with their transport strike against oil price increases. The organizers said the strike paralyzed 50 percent of Central and South Cebu, 70 to 80 percent of North Cebu.
In Tagbilaran City, a march rally was led by Boholanos Against Con-Ass (Bacona). In Bacolod City, the local Bayan chapter spearheaded a rally at the city plaza. Bishop Vicente Navarra of the Diocese of Bacolod and Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño who boycotted Arroyo’s Sona and joined the rally.
People’s marches were also staged in Panay and Eastern Visayas. The Lakbayan in Eastern Visayas culminated in a mass with newly-elected Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)
vice president Archbishop Jose Palma at the Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Plaza in Tacloban City. The Lakbayan in Panay converged in Iloilo City for a program.
In Davao City, 30,000 protesters from different provinces in southern Mindanao gather at Rizal Park to protest. Speaking at the rally, Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto Guingona III said Arroyo is an illegitimate president.
In Butuan City and Tandag City, motorcades and march rallies were held. In Dipolog City, protesters staged a torch parade. Similar protests were held in Pagadian City, General Santos City, Koronadal City, Cagayan de Oro City, Valencia, Iligan City, Surigao City led by local chapters of Bayan. (With reports from Ronalyn V. Olea, Ritche Salgado, Grace Uddin, Noel Godinez, Aldwin Alquitasol, Joan Garcia / bulatlat.com)