After ZTE scandal, Bayan expects protests to swell

Mar. 01, 2008

Packed in five multicabs, carrying streamers that call for the ouster of President Gloria Arroyo, members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and its allied groups did not make it to the Grand Regal Hotel on Wednesday, where the President addressed the League first Mindanao cluster conference of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP).

But Jeppie Ramada, Bayan secretary general for Southern Mindanao, said the group vowed to make it up today, Friday, in what he said will be a big rally for truth and accountability at Rizal Park, calling for the President’s ouster.

Ramada said he expects the protest actions to swell in the wake of the ZTE exposes at the Senate, linking the administration to the bloated NBN-ZTE deal. “We know that the sentiment against the President in Davao is strong. We can see initiatives from different sectors coming,” he said.

Amidst mounting calls for her to resign, Arroyo was wary, not only of protesters, but also of the media during her visit here Wednesday.

Arroyo’s Presidential Security Guard (PSG) refused to honor the gate passes issued by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) for the visit, and issued security passes to only a handful of reporters.

At a junction of F. Torres st., police stopped protesters on their way to meet Arroyo with calls for her ouster. They were made to alight from the vehicles, Ramada said.

He said security was too tight, that police questioned even the presence of a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) tank used to power one of the jeepneys.

Amidst testimonies that linked her to the NBN-ZTE scandal, 26 town mayors in Mindanao belonging to the LMP signed a manifesto, stating that they firmly believe in the President’s integrity and honest governance of the country, giving the President their “unwavering support and allegiance.”

The 26 mayors, headed by Ramon Abalos of Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat, said they are “solidly behind the leadership,” amidst allegations of massive corruption in the latest political scandal that rocked the Presidency.

But Ramada said protesters are not troubled by the municipal mayors’ pronouncement. “We all know that these are politicos and their participation is superficial. We understand that mayors, especially of small towns, are heavily dependent on the IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment).

What happens to them if they will not play the game? Ramada asked. Once the balance is tilted, I bet they will be first to abandon the President.”

comments powered by Disqus