People Power alive in Baguio:

Interfaith rally gathers anti-GMA crowd


February 29, 2008



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People Power alive in Baguio
Posted by editors under general , Baguio City

Interfaith rally gathers anti-GMA crowd

BAGUIO CITY (Feb. 29) — People power is alive in this highland city as shown in a mass actions launched here calling for the immediate resignation of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo belying administration claims there is a people-power fatigue.

Nationally coordinated mass actions launched last Monday and Friday has proven otherwise.

Despite rain, various groups gathered under tents in the Igorot Park here Friday to join the interfaith rally for truth and accountability which was simultaneous with the mammoth mobilization in Makati City.

Various groups representing the church, youth and students, professionals, urban poor and workers, among others, gathered on two occasions this week here where they aired their call for truth on the NBN-ZTE deal, and for GMA to step down reverberated with protest songs, candle-lighting and a torch parade.

Honest governance

Nelson Salvador, spokesperson of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals claimed they joined the gathering as they aspire for an honest society.

“Be honest even if others are not… cannot… and will not, “ he said pointing out that proven good government officials are removed from their position, particularly raising the issue of anti-graft crusader Braulio D. Yaranon. Baguio’s former mayor, was suspended for a year due to his expose of local graft and corruption in the city. He added while corrupt officials cling to their office instead.

Yaranon also talked during the gathering explaining how power tempts officials leading them to turn their back from the responsibility to the people, they are sworn to serve.

Fr. Percy Bacani of the Diocese of Social Action reiterated the condemnation of the culture of corruption happening from top to bottom of the present administration.

“We need to fight corruption particularly in the local government units,” Bacani pointed out.

In a statement distributed in the gathering, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines stated, “The spectacle of administration allies ganging up on Lozada show how they would do everything to preserve their interest and that of the one seating in Malacañang. They were incoherent with their lies, weaving a string of allegations, which only further exposed a larger network of conspiracy.”

Evelyn Miranda of the Am-among di Ifontok (gathering of the Ibontocs) said that truth is unfolding as to the anomalous NBN-ZTE deal. “Ammo tay amin nu anya ti agpayso,” (We all know the truth) she said.

Junie Simeon of the Courage-Cordillera support the gathering as they claimed that government employees are affected with the new policies of the government including the privatization of agencies that are directly bringing services to the people.

The Youth for Accountability and Truth Now (Youth Act Now), an alliance of youth organizations and individuals, expressed its support to businessman Jun Lozada who exposed the anomalous deal.

Anjo Cerdeña, spokesperson of the Youth Act Now reiterated their call for GMA’s resignation as she turned her back to the government’s responsibility on education and other social services.

From truth to resignation

While the call for truth and accountability was the initial call of the gathering, the gravity of the graft and corruption and violation of basic rights allegedly committed by this administration led the more militant to raise the call to more higher political call for GMA to resign.

Manny Loste of Bayan Muna Cordillera narrated the violations being attributed to GMA particularly the 900 extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.

“Enough is enough. GMA must step down from the presidency at the earliest period,” urged Chie Galvez, secretary-general of the Tongtongan ti Umili.

“We cannot allow apathy to triumph alongside with the evils of bureaucracy. We have to continue to fight these bureaucratic evils towards the ouster of the corrupt and fascist GMA regime. Let us live out what history taught us, that People power is the highest form of people’s participation in governance,” Tongtongan claimed in its statement.

Meanwhile on Monday, various groups attended the mass at the Baguio Cathedral here. A candle- lighting and a torch parade ensued. They also called for truth about the NBN-ZTE deal. ►


BRAVING THE RAIN. Various groups in Baguio City unite in nationwide interfaith gathering to express their call for justice, truth and accountability. Photo by Brenda S. Dacpano/NORDIS

Participants in the interfaith gathering at the Igorot Park, Baguio City. Photo by Brenda S. Dacpano/NORDIS



Baguio-Benguet Catholic Bishop Carlito Cenzon, in his homily, called for truth on the alleged fraudulent US$ 329 million NBN-ZTE deal.

“This mass is an expression of the CBCP’s call for communal action,” Cenzon reiterated during the mass which gathered a crowd much wider that the local Catholic population.

Sr. Lulu Dulay, Directress of the St. Louis Center here, repeated the position of the Catholic Educators Association in the Philippines (CEAP) which “does not allow dishonesty and corruption in the government to rule our life.”

Discussing the anomaly tainted ZTE-NBN deal, Dulay said CEAP would link with other groups to seek truth and justice.

Cerdeña of Youth Act Now and College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), pointed out the role of the youth in the removal of two corrupt presidents via people power – Ferdinand Marcos in February 1986 and Joseph Estrada in 2001.

Yaranon, who was also in the mass, claimed through their strength people could remove a corrupt president, who he said, has no moral authority to lead the country. He exposed local corrupt practices by politicians during his 2004-2006 in office but he was suspended by Malacañang for a year and never took his seat. In the 2007 elections, he ran for re-election but lost by a slim margin.

Yaranon pointed out that people power is incorporated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution which institutionalized people’s gathering and discussion of their issues. It protects their right to peaceably assemble including the removal of their leaders through their sovereign power, he said. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS


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