THOUSANDS of militants led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan spilled over the stretch of Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, urging President Benigno Aquino III to walk-the-talk in his highly-touted anti-corruption campaign.
"Institutions for accountability have been damaged and undermined by the previous government. The prosecution of Arroyo remains a pressing concern for a people who have long been denied of justice,” said Renato Reyes, secretary-general of Bayan.
After listening to the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Aquino, Reyes lauded the efforts to reveal the misdeeds of the Arroyo government but lamented the lack of action plan in running after the crooks in the past administration.
“Dapat ilagay sa hold-departure list ang mga taong iyan, dapat ibalik ang mga kinulimbat na pondo. Hinihintay natin ang konkretong hakbang kung kelan papanagutin at ipapakulong si Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” he said.
Reyes also blasted Aquino for being silent on agrarian reform and jobs creation for more than four million unemployed and seven million underemployed Filipinos.
“Nasayang ang malaking oportunidad na magbigay ng solusyon sa problema ng mamamayan sa lupa, sa paglikha ng trabaho at pambansang industriyalisasyon,” he said.
Aside from Bayan, militant groups such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Kabataan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Kilusang Mayo Uno and Karapatan joined the rally.
In an interview, National Capital Region police director Roberto Rosales said the rally was peaceful as he pegged the number of protesters at 6,000.
“They have been cooperative so far and it's generally peaceful here,” he told Sun. Star,
Militants left the vicinity of Ever Gotesco Mall along Commonwealth Avenue around 5:30 p.m. Monday.
They also brought with them a Harry Potter-inspired effigy of President Aquino, but this will not be burned as practiced during the much-reviled Arroyo government.
As part of beefing up security in the first Sona of President Aquino, the Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed 7,867 policemen, of which 4,500 were deployed around the Batasan Complex where the President delivered his Sona.
Several close circuit television (CCTV) cameras were also installed near the Batasan premises.
The National Capital Command (NCRCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), on the other hand, deployed two battalions in the Batasan and surrounding areas to augment police forces.
Rosales earlier junked the appeal of militants led by Bayan to hold their protest and other activities right at the Batasan gates due to traffic and security concerns.
On midnight Sunday, the northbound lane of Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City was closed to traffic but operations went back to normal Monday night.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has also suspended classes in 19 schools near the vicinity of the Batasan Pambansa (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)