The rally organized by the progressive (read left) anti-GMA forces in Liwasang Bonifacio drew a crowd of mostly students, urban poor and labor groups from Metro Manila communities. Bannered by Bayan, the League of Filipino Students, Gabriela, labor and farmers’ groups and sundry organizations identified with the organized Left, the rally was notably smaller than the Makati “inter-faith” rally of two weeks back. The Catholic church and other religious organizations were represented by various personages, although their institutional participation was not readily apparent.
By my rough estimate, there were around 5,000 participants, the majority students from nearby colleges. Notably absent were the well-heeled “civil society” aggregations which usually comprise the Makati gatherings, revealing the classic bourgeois ambivalence about casting their lot with the vanguard of the revolutionary masses.
The crowd’s common cry was clear and unequivocal: that Gloria Arroyo resign. None of that “search-for-truth” pussyfooting so prevalent in the more genteel mass actions in Makati and elsewhere. The people gathered here knew what they wanted, if not exactly how to get it.
Spotted in the crowd were a smattering of politicians, young and old: Congressman Joel Villanueva of the party-list organization Cibac, ex-DOTC Secretary and Pangasinan governor Oscar Orbos, United Opposition spokesman and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila president Adel Tamano. Former vice president Teofisto Guingona, Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, and Gabriela Representative Liza Maza also joined the protest, but did not go up the stage set up in front of the monument of revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio. Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim briefly spoke on stage but only to ensure peace and order and not to join calls for President Arroyo to step down. No Jun Lozada, who was on a provincial sortie.
While a festive atmosphere prevailed, the crowd was listless under the hot afternoon sun. And although the fervor seemed to be present among the youth, the numbers just weren’t there. The slogans were tried and true, but also a little tired. People looked distracted. Even the cops looked bored. It was as if everyone was already looking forward to the upcoming Holy Week break. This is not the kind of primal social force that could storm Malacanang.
It looks as if Gloria will be around for awhile longer.