The Crowd is the Statement

Rally is largest since start of NBN crisis
By Ronnel Domingo, TJ Burgonio
Associated Press, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Festive was Friday's interfaith rally, which was marked by prayer, poetry and presidential clout, with a warning of God's wrath thrown in.

Peaceful, too, with a strong youthful vein running through the rally site in Makati City, despite the fact that it was held to express outrage, demand truth and accountability, and call for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"This is that kind of rally," said Makati Business Club (MBC) executive director Alberto Lim, pointing at the thick crowd spreading in four directions from the intersection of Ayala and Paseo de Roxas Avenues.

"This is an interfaith gathering; there is no shouting slogans against imperialism, etc., which turns off many people," Lim said. "This rally is peaceful. The people here are in a merry mood."

"The crowd is the statement," he said, adding that the rally was "just the beginning."

It was the largest crowd yet since Ms Arroyo's latest crisis erupted. Crowd estimates ranged from 15,000 to 80,000.

The chief of the Makati police, Supt. Gilbert Cruz, declined to give a figure, saying he had not been authorized to do so.

Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, told the Inquirer that the corner of Ayala and Paseo de Roxas measured half a hectare, or 5,000 square meters.

"So if you have three people per square meter, our crowd estimate is 15,000 people. If you have four people per square meter, it might be too crowded," Barias said.

An officer of the Makati police said: "It could be around 17,000 to 18,000, but to be safe, let's say 15,000."

Organizers pegged the crowd at 75,000 but a radio report said Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay estimated 80,000.

"This is a good start," Sonia Roco, widow of Sen. Raul Roco, said in an interview backstage.

According to the organizers, the gathering is the biggest indignation rally since National Broadband Network scandal erupted late last year.

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A Gathering Storm?

It was so far the biggest mass action against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo since the national broadband network (NBN) scandal erupted. Yesterday, ralliers estimated between 15,000 and 85,000 gathered along Ayala and Paseo de Roxas Avenues in Makati City in protest of her “corrupt regime.

The interfaith rally was marked with speeches, prayer, poetry, and cultural presentations of various groups all calling for Arroyo's resignation.

The crowd roared and cheered when Rodolfo Noel ‘Jun’ Lozada Jr. took the stage together with his usual army of nuns in white and grey cloaks. Lozada urged the people to continue the fight for truth and justice for “love for our fellowmen who are victimized by corruption.”

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The sign that was told before has now started to come to pass.