PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — LOYAL supporters of former President Estrada yesterday marked their failed siege of Malacañang Palace six years ago, which they have dubbed “Edsa 3,” by trooping to the historic Mendiola St., renamed Don Chino Roces St., in Manila.
The People’s Movement Against Poverty went to Mendiola corner Legarda St. past 10:30 a.m. and laid flowers at the statue of the late Don Chino Roces.
“Andito kami para gunitain ang makasaysayang araw ng mga mahihirap na kung tawagin ay ang ikatlong Edsa,” Ronald Lumbao said.
Lawmen allowed Lumbao to approach the Chino Roces monument for the flower offering. His followers, numbering more or less 50, stayed along Legarda St. As they were about to leave, Lumbao shouted at the police guarding Mendiola telling them not to prevent people from entering the historic site.
“Ang bawal ay si Gloria Arroyo,” Lumbao said. The group left past 11 a.m.
On May 1, 2001, PMAP and other Estrada loyalists attempted to storm Malacañang in protest of the ouster of their leader in January over allegations of widespread corruption in his government.
The demonstrators turned violent as they approached Mendiola, the gateway to Malacañang, as they burned vehicles, threw stones at cops and destroyed public and private properties.
In a separate development, the militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno threatened to “reclaim” Don Chino Roces Bridge yesterday to commemorate Labor Day.
“It’s high time we reclaim Mendiola as we continue to fight for freedom, democracy and defend the people against human rights abuses and political repression.. .,” the group said in a press statement.
The group said an estimated 35,000 workers and members of other sectors will converge at Liwasang Bonifacio in Lawton district, Manila at noon and then proceed to Don Chino Roces Bridge at 4 p.m.
It added that they have permits to rally and they see no legal reason for the police to stop them from marching Manila streets up to Don Chino Roces Bridge.
Reports, meanwhile, said the group led by Akbayan party-list Loretta Ann Rosales was blocked by policemen in Morayta, a stone’s throw away from Don Chino Roces Bridge.
The policemen were reportedly questioning the permit to rally application of Rosales’s group from Manila city hall. Police said the application has not been approved yet by the city government.
Metro Manila police chief Director Reynaldo Varilla said on Monday that the police would have to enforce Batas Pambansa 880, an act providing the people the right to a peaceful assembly and to petition the government.
Varilla said under the act, demonstrators would have to seek permits to rally first before conducting demonstrations in designated areas called “freedom parks.”
Varilla said he ordered the deployment of at least 15,000 policemen to ensure peaceful celebration of Labor Day on Tuesday.
The 15,000 Metro Manila policemen will be augmented by 2,000 standby troops from the Armed Forces’ National Capital Region Command and hundreds of policemen from Cagayan, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
Police have advised activist and labor groups against trying to breach Don Chino Roces Bridge to avoid violence during Labor Day celebrations. Varilla said the police are expecting 5,000 to 10,000 protesters in Metro Manila streets on Tuesday. He said they are expecting a peaceful Labor Day celebration this year.
The bridge, more famously known as Mendiola, has witnessed bloody demonstrations over the past decades.
On Jan. 30, 1970, four student demonstrators died at the bridge after violent confrontation between protesters and security forces under the administration of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. The incident was dubbed as The Battle of Mendiola Bridge.”
During former president Corazon Aquino’s time in 1987, 13 demonstrators were killed and scores wounded when crowd control troops fired at thousands of peasant farmers demanding genuine land reform.