Saturday, March 1, 2008

Largest anti-Arroyo protest in Manila

Largest anti-Arroyo protest in Manila
Web posted at: 3/1/2008 1:21:4
Source ::: AFP
Thousands of Filipinos gather in Manila's financial district of Makati City calling for the ouster of President Gloria Arroyo, yesterday. (EPA)

manila • Two former Philippine presidents took to the stage yesterday to call for embattled President Gloria Arroyo's resignation in the largest anti-government protest in years.

Disgraced former president Joseph Estrada and the woman who helped unseat him, former president Corazon Aquino, led more than 15,000 people through a Manila financial district as security forces went on full alert in the capital.

"Enough Gloria. You should resign," Aquino told the crowd after she climbed on a stage to address the protesters. “The time calls for everyone to unite to stop this deception and get the truth out.”

For months, Arroyo has been plagued by a corruption scandal implicating her husband and a key political ally in alleged kickbacks in a failed $329m broadband deal with Chinese company ZTE Corp.

Estrada, who was pardoned by Arroyo last year shortly after being sentenced to life in prison for massive corruption, joined Aquino on stage. It was an unlikely pairing since Aquino had joined the public uprising in 2001 that led to his ouster and the instalment of Arroyo as president.

"What do we do if people overstay their welcome," Estrada said, letting the crowd roar out its answer: "Resign!" Placards reading "Gloria, Resign" and calling Arroyo “Luckiest Bitch’ referring to her avoiding several impeachments and coup attempts-were brandished, along with a giant effigy of a red Arroyo devil. "This will be the strongest rejection yet of Mrs Arroyo," said Renato Reyes of the leftist political group Bayan.