by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com
MAKATI CITY — ABOUT six to ten thousand people gathered in Makati on February 16 in a United Opposition (UNO) rally aimed to oust President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The protest was held to denounce corruption and to show support to Jun Lozada, a star witness in the Senate inquiry on the NBN-ZTE corruption scandal. Lozada claims to have been harassed and kidnapped by men with connections to Malacañang to prevent him to testify.
“We decided to hold this rally after our [UNO] meeting Wednesday night,” said UNO president and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay. ”
Pero kahit na maikli lamang ang panahon, mararamdaman mo naman ang galit ng tao naghihintay lamang nitong rally…so hindi naging problema ang pag-organize nito (But even in a short time, you can feel the anger of the public who are just waiting for the rally…so there was no problem in organizing).”
Bearing oust GMA placards and wearing Moderate Your Greed, Exterminate your Breed stickers (with illustration of PGMA atop bundles of cash), the crowd chanted, ”
Tama na, sobra na, kumilos na (Stop it, it’s already excessive, do something).”
“This rally is just the start,” the Makati Mayor said. He added that from the day of the event and with every expose on the Administration, there would be an activity that will be organized by the opposition. Mayor Binay noted that the protest is not only for the NBN-ZTE deal, ‘Hello Garci’ scandal, South Rail and North Rail projects but also for the human rights the Palace allegedly violated.
The next move of the opposition will be a Mass on February 17 at La Salle Greenhills and then a bigger rally on February 25.
Ice-candy, fishball, grilled squid, and ice cream vendors made the event look festive. Bands and choirs including reggae group Brownman Revival performed. Confetti rained from the Bank of the Philippine Island and Tower 1 buildings.
Protesters started the program by singing religious songs, followed by prayers from the Muslim and Christian communities, Mass and testimonials from supporters from the private sector including National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera.
Aside from known anti-Arroyo groups and personalities including Bayan Muna, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Roilo Golez, San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito and former Vice President Teofisto Guingona among others, non-partisan institutions such as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Makati Business Club also joined the rally.
Focus on economy
In a speech earlier in the day at the Philippine Economic Briefing, President Arroyo announced that there is no room in our development for money to be wasted in corruption. Previous statements from Malacañang dismissed the opposition’s investigations, which point to the PGMA, her husband and allies, as mere “political noise” intended to downplay the country’s economic growth.
Bayan Muna Party List Representative Satur Ocampo countered the President’s claim saying, “The administration’s claim that the economy is booming is a misrepresentation. It is true that the GDP levels are growing but this is what you call growth without jobs.” Binay added, ”
Yung ekonomiyang sinasabi n’ya ay mirage lang. Yung ekonomiyang sinasabi nya ay dahil sa OFW remittances at mga binentang properties. Hindi naman nararamdaman ng maraming tao ‘yan (The economy [the President] is referring to is a mirage. The economy she was referring to is due to OFW remittances and sold properties. Those were not felt by the people).”
GMA is watching you
Organizers of the crowd condoned the installation of surveillance cameras at the traffic light poles near the venue. For which the crowd were asked to wave because the Palace was suspected to be watching them. Some individuals who wanted to join the rally also claimed that they were stopped by the Police at the South Superhighway so that they would not be able to go.
To those who attended, Mayor Binay said, ”
Maraming salamat ho at nailabas na ninyo yung gusto ninyong ipakita…’yung pagkagalit sa ginawa kay Jun Lozada na ang kagustuhan naman lamang ay ilabas ang katotohanan.”