[News] Police disperse anti-Arroyo rallies in Philippines; arrests made

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Fri Feb 24 15:24:09 EST 2006


 From Monsters and Critics.com
http://news.monstersandcritics.com/asiapacific/printer_1132613.php
Asia-Pacific News
Police disperse anti-Arroyo rallies in Philippines; arrests made
By DPA
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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