Thousands rail at Cha-cha

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THOUSANDS converged yesterday at the junction of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati as anti-Charter change forces came together for one of the biggest rallies against the move to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Prominent among the protesters were civil so-ciety groups that included Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Partidong Manggagawa, Gabriela, and Courage which started marching to the rally site at 3:30 p.m.

The marchers along Paseo de Roxas were led by party-list Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna, Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela, and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis.

Former President Joseph Estrada was present but abruptly left to be at his mother’s bedside at the San Juan Medical Center. Estrada’s 103-year-old mother was gravely ill, according to a spokesman of the former president.

Jueteng witness Sandra Cam of the Whistleblowers’ Association of the Philippines was among the demonstrators. Another scandal witness, ZTE national broadband network mess whistleblower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada was also present along with former government officials tagged as the Hyatt 10.

Also at the rally were anti-Cha-cha Senators Manuel Roxas II, Loren Legarda, Panfilo Lacson and Francis Escudero.

Earlier, Roxas joined an anti-Chacha rally in Manila attended yesterday by thousands of students, teachers and members of various private organizations.

The protesters ga-thered at the Bonifacio Shrine beside the Manila City Hall to show their protest against the proposed Charter change. The rally ended up peacefully.

Apart from Roxas, those who spoke in the rally included Mayor Alfredo S. Lim and Alvin Fronteras of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila’s Supreme Student Council.

In his speech, Lim explained the specific provisions of the Constitution and said it will be up to the people to decide whether or not they will support Charter change.

When asked by Lim if they wanted elections to push through in 2010, the crowd answered with a resounding “yes” and raised their banners.

“Sagrado ang boto ng bawat isa sa atin. Pagdating ng halalan, walang mayaman, walang mahirap, lahat tig-isang boto lang,” Lim said to the crowd.

Lim also told that it is better to follow the stand of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales in opposing Charter change and an extension of term of incumbent officials inclu-ding the President.