Thousands march vs Con-ass

MANILA - Braving possible infection from influenza A (H1N1), around 5,000 protestors marched to the country's financial district of Makati Wednesday to oppose an administration-backed initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution through a Senate-less constituent assembly (Con-ass).

Footage taken by ANC television showed various personalities and cause-oriented groups joining the march on the corner of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenue where they were showered with confetti. Among those seen at the rally are Senators Loren Legarda, Richard Gordon, Manuel Roxas, Benigno Aquino III and former Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Similar protest actions were also held in various cities including Dagupan, Bacolod, Iloilo and Cagayan De Oro.

Chief Superintendent Roberto Rosales, Metro Manila police chief, said the Makati crowd had occupied a large portion of the area near the Ninoy Aquino statue to the Philtrust building and Robinsons Summit Center in Makati.

"There are probably 5,000 to 5,200 people in the area, especially if you count at least one to three people per square meter," he told ANC.

He said at least 5,000 policemen will provide security in the rally, which is expected to last until 8 p.m.

Former President Corazon Aquino begged off from the rally due to a lingering illness. Her successor, Fidel Ramos, said he will attend the rally only if it reaches a million strong, according to his spokesman Ed Malay.

Ramos added, however, that he is opposed to Charter change even before the merger of the rulling Lakas-CMD and Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi).

Former President Joseph Estrada also failed to attend the rally due to a prior commitment in the Middle East.

Renato Reyes Jr., leader of the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the rally will be the “opening salvo” of a series of protests until President Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.

House leaders have said they may convene a constituent assembly after Arroyo’s SONA. HR 1109 allows the assembly to amend the charter through joint voting of both houses of Congress even without the Senate.

As opposed to separate voting, joint voting will allow the 265-member House of Representatives to meet the three-fourths vote—218 congressmen—needed to approve charter amendments even without the help of any senator.

“There will be no let up in protests. The SONA would be a major political battleground insofar as pushing the Con-ass is concerned. We hope to mobilize what could be the biggest SONA protest in Arroyo’s eight years in office,” Reyes said.


Post a Comment