[News] Police disperse anti-Arroyo rallies in Philippines; arrests made
News at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 24 15:24:09 EST 2006
From Monsters and Critics.com
Police disperse anti-Arroyo rallies in Philippines; arrests made
Feb 24, 2006, 19:00 GMT
Manila - Thousands of anti-government
demonstrators in the Philippines clashed Friday
with police ordered to disperse them after
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a
state of emergency in the wake of an alleged attempt to grab power.
More than 20 demonstrators, including at least
three organizers, were rounded up by police. Most
of them were later released because of lack of evidence.
Most of the dispersed demonstrators later joined
a much bigger rally, attended by more than 15,000
people, in the financial district of Makati. The
demonstration was held without incident with some
of the protesters voluntarily leaving by early evening.
At the Makati rally, \'people power\' icon
Corazon Aquino, who became president of the
Philippines in 1986 after dictator Ferdinand
Marcos was ousted in a popular uprising, urged
the people to remain vigilant and reiterated her call for Arroyo to resign.
\'Let us not allow for democracy to be stolen
from us again,\' she said to the loud cheers of
the crowd. \'Mrs. President, I ask you to make
the supreme sacrifice. Please resign.\'
Other officials who attended the Makati rally
included Senate President Franklin Drilon, who
was also adamant in his call for Arroyo\'s
resignation; other legislators; Makati City Mayor
Jejomar Binay; and opposition politicians.
Earlier in the day, riot police hosed down two
groups of demonstrators, together numbering more
than 9,000 people, along the main EDSA highway in
Manila after failing to persuade them to disperse on their own.
The demonstrators retaliated, throwing rocks at
police who started to round up the protesters.
Several officers beat up four of the
demonstrators before hauling them off to detention.
Several other people were hurt in the melee, but
no major injuries were reported.
The protesters were marching toward the EDSA
Shrine, which was built to honour the four-day
\'people power\' revolt in February 1986, which
ousted the now-late Marcos. They were blocked a
few hundred metres way from the shrine.
Another group of more than 4,000 was able to hold
a brief programme at the shrine before they were dispersed by police.
\'We are appealing to the armed forces and the
police to ignore the unconstitutional and illegal
order of Arroyo,\' Congresswoman Rizza Hontiveros-Baraquel said.
\'What they [the police and military] have to
recognize is the display of the people\'s
rejection of Arroyo and their desire to set up an
alternative transition government,\' she added.
Presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor
warned the protesters not to test the resolve of
the government to enforce the ban on rallies under the state of emergency.
\'The government has to protect itself,\' he
said. \'The government, with the help of the
police and the military, will arrest and detain
all those joining these demonstrations.\'
Arroyo declared the state of emergency after the
discovery of an alleged coup plot.
\'There were elements who tried to defect from
the armed forces, defy the civil government and
form a regime outside of the constitution,\' she
said. \'The government has crushed these illegal actions.\'
Even before Arroyo\'s declaration, several
protesters had already been arrested, said
Minguita Padilla, a spokeswoman for the Be Not
Afraid Movement, a group demanding the resignation or ouster of the president.
\'We have already sent our lawyers to the police
headquarters to inquire what are the charges
against them,\' she said, \'but we are going to
continue with our planned protest.\'
Party-list Congressman Renato Magtubo urged
Filipinos to join the demonstrations to show
their dismay over the way Arroyo was running the country.
\'I am calling all the people to get out into the
streets and support all moves to oust the
government of Arroyo,\' he said. \'We have
reached a situation today where everyone has to
make a choice: Are we for the change of government, or are we for Arroyo?\'
The demonstrations were also supposed to mark the
20th anniversary of the \'people power\' revolt
when more than 1 million people gathered at EDSA to oust Marcos.
In January 2001, hundreds of thousands of people
also gathered at the shrine in another uprising
that led to the ouster of former president Joseph
Estrada, accused of massive corruption, and to
Arroyo\'s accession to the presidency.
Arroyo\'s woes started in June last year with the
release of illegally wiretapped conversations
allegedly between her and a senior elections
official about rigging the results of the May 2004 vote.
She has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to stay
in power until her term ends in 2010.
© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
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