Friday, December 12, 2008

Philippines says NO to charter change

That's me with Philippine Senator Francis 'Chiz' Escudero in the December 12 Anti Charter Change Rally in Makati a while ago. (On the left side of the background is Senator Serge Osmeña, and Adel Tamano on the right)
Quite a crowd in the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati City.

Thousands of protesters converged at the junction of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati City for a rally against moves by administration lawmakers to amend the Constitution.
The protest turned into a huge Christmas party for several organizations, with song and dance numbers were staged on a colorfully lit street with holiday decorations all over the buildings in the city’s financial district.
Apart from protest banners and placards scattered in the streets, there were also vendors selling dirty ice cream, native clothes, and other accessories. One vendor was selling souvenir buttons with the words “Moderate your Greed” and “Oust Gloria” printed on them.
At the middle of Paseo de Roxas, a small eatery serving rice porridge and noodles had been set up.
At the start of the protest, Makati mayor Jejomar Binay declared Makati City a Charter change-free city. “Handa ho kaming makibaka, teka, seditious yata yan [We are prepared to fight, wait, that seems to be seditious],” Binay quipped.
“Dito sa Makati, maniwala kayo magkakasama tayong lalaban sa anumang pagbabago sa ating Saligang Batas [Here in Makati, believe me, we are together to fight any attempt to change the Constitution],” he said.
Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who represented his father, former president Joseph Estrada, criticized the recent dismissal of an impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the House of Representatives.
“Kamakailan, pinatay ang impeachment complaint, hindi idininig ang ika-apat na impeachment complaint, kaya patuloy ang katiwalian sa ating bansa [Recently, they killed the impeachment complaint, they did not hear the fourth impeachment complaint, which is why corruption continues in our country]” he said.
Early Friday evening, Renato Reyes, secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said they had achieved their goal of mobilizing 10,000 people from a "broad range of forces" including churches and various political parties and civil society groups, which he said showed how "widely rejected Cha-Cha [Charter change] has become."
But National Capital Region police office (NCRPO) Director Leopoldo Bataoil refused to give a crowd estimate and “argue [with protesters] on figures.”
“As to the crowd estimate, I will not give my own, I will leave that to the organizers, and I will respect their crowd estimate,” he added.
Media outfits estimated the crowd peaking at 8,000.
Bataoil also said the protest was “generally peaceful with no untoward incidents.”
The five-hour rally ended promptly at 9 p.m. with protesters ending the program with the nationalist song “Bayan Ko” (My Country) while holding lit candles, and then quietly dispersing.
Earlier, the Philippine National Police said 4,700 anti-riot police would be deployed to provide security during the rally.
Protesters converged at the protest site at 4 p.m. Members of the contingent led by Bayan carried around huge Christmas lanterns with the words “Junk Cha-Cha,” with drums and folk dancers marching along.
A contingent from the Liberal Party, led by Senators Manuel Roxas II and Rodolfo Biazon, and Representative Ruffy Biazon, and former senator Franklin Drilon, among others, gathered in front of the Makati Post Office, to march to the rally site.
At the start of the protest, rallyists let loose swarms of green balloons to protest any moves to amend the Constitution.
"I hope we will be able to stop Cha-Cha [Charter change] after this. Charter change now is a manglement [sic], a rape of our constitution," said Roxas in an interview.
Also at the protest are Senators Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Benigno Aquino III and Ma. Ana Consuelo Madrigal, United Opposition president Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, Bayan Muna (People First) Representatives Teddy Casiño and Satur Ocampo, Gabriela Representative Liza Maza and Representative Teofisto Guingona III, and lawyer Harry Roque, among others.
But former president Joseph Estrada, who promised to join the rally, will not show up as he rushed to be with his ailing 103-year-old mother.
Margaux Salcedo, Estrada's spokesperson, said the former president rushed to the San Juan Medical Center where Doña Mary Ejercito is in "extreme medical condition."
A contingent led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance), armed with colorful Christmas lanterns and dancing to native music, marched from Makati Avenue.
Ocampo, Casiño and Maza carried lanterns that read, "Junk Cha-Cha."

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