MANILA - It's still pouring. The opposition to the charter change initiative, that is.
Various anti-Cha-cha (charter change) groups said Monday they will express themselves through peaceful means--whether on the streets or through the airwaves--to keep the momentum of public resistance going.
Organizers of a planned street rally in the country's main financial district said the Wednesday gathering in the country's main financial district will push through--rain or shine.
For another group, however, it is not the threat of bad weather that is setting them back. Lack of funds to afford the airing of an already completed anti-Con-ass TV ad has led a group to instead make a call for young Filipinos to flood the social networking sites with their own anti-Con-ass protest videos.
Con-ass stands for constituent assembly, which the Lower House hastily passed last week to allow the congressmen to convene as a body that will craft changes to the 1987 Consitution, sans their 23 counterparts in the Senate.
On Monday, organizers of the planned anti-Cha-cha (Charter change) met with Makati police and local government representatives at the Makati Ciy Hall to coordinate for an orderly and peaceful street protest.
The June 10 rally, which is scheduled to last from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., will be held at the corner of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenues, at the heart of the Makati City Central Business District.
From 12 noon Wednesday, roads leading to the intersection of Paseo de Roxas and Ayala, particularly Paseo from Buendia, Ayala up to Makati Avenue, and the stretch of Buendia up to Dela Costa, will be closed.
Among those expected to be in the rally are former presidents Joseph Estrada and Corazon Aquino, as well as most, if not all, senators and representatives who are against the Con-ass initiative.
Also expected to attend are leaders and members of the United Opposition, BAYAN, Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (Women), Concerned Citizens Movement, Edsa 3 Coalition, Black and White Movement, Gabriela, and Kabataan,
Former vice president Teofisto Guingona is also set to participate in the rally along with members of the Liberal Party, Change Politics, MyErap, Akbayan, Sanlakas, Artists Revolution, Pagbabago, Filipinos for Peace, Justice and Progress Movement (FPJPM), Movement for Good Governance, and Bangon Pilipinas.
All those who want to speak will be permitted, organizers said.
However, partylist group Bayan said they are worried the police might use the CCTV cameras in the area for surveillance and profiling of those who will attend the rally.
In the days leading to the rally, an anti-Con-ass group is also planning to launch a television advertisement dramatizing their disapproval to the proposal in the Lower House.
"Hindi ako papayag sa Con-ass" is the message of the said TV ad, produced by the Register and Vote Campaign.
The ad features personalities like Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio, and singer Cookie Chua, who all first appear with their mouths taped shut to show that they are being "silenced" by con-ass.
While the ad has been produced, the people behind it have yet to get funds for its airing on television.
Baraquel said that the group needs P2 million to air the ad for three days before the big rally on Wednesday.
She added that if Congres does not see any protest in the streets, it will go ahead and call for a constituent assembly even before Congress opens on the fourth week of July.
The group also called on the youth to make their own videos against con-ass and post their messages on social networking sites.
The military leadership on Monday, meanwhile, said officers and soldiers who join anti-Charter change protests in Makati City will be discharged from the service.
“We are going to monitor it. If anyone is caught joining this (rally), this could be grounds for their separation from the service,” Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. told a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo.
Brawner said the reminder is not a warning since all active soldiers should be following military rules and regulations while they are still in the service. He said soldiers who are on day off, leave or on furlough are disallowed from joining the demonstrations.
Brawner said all military commanders are tasked to check on their men to ensure that no soldier will be joining the demonstrations by multi-sectoral groups, including some leaders of the Catholic church.
He said that based on the accounts of the military commanders, all their men are still following the chain of command.
He also said that all troops are accounted for “and our commanders have given the leadership of the AFP their word that no one will join destabilization moves.”
He said these assurances were given to AFP chief Gen. Victor Ibrado during his rounds of different camps and units.
Earlier, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon warned that restive officers and men may join the demonstrations against the constituent assembly to change the Charter. He suggested that the House resolution calling for the constituent assembly be withdrawn to avoid the scenario.
Keep the peace
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), however, reminded protesters to do away with violence when holding rallies.
“Express it in a peaceful non-violent way in order that we may not fall into the trap that will necessitate martial law again,” said CBCP president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo in a statement posted on www.cbcpnews.com.
“Learn the lesson from the past,” he added, pertaining to the declaration of martial law in 1972.
Lagdameo also called on the lower chamber of Congress to drop House Resolution 1109. He noted that the CBCP stands by its position against Charter change before the 2010 national elections.
“If there should be let it be after 2010 and via a Constitutional Convention whose delegates are democratically elected by the people,” said Lagdameo.
Activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) welcomed the CBCP statement.
“The nationwide rallies are expected to be peaceful and organized but the outrage will certainly be there. Rain or shine, we will march against Con-Ass," said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. in a statement.
“There are now efforts in the various provinces and regions to mount protest actions together with the religious and the opposition. We're reaching out and organizing provincial and regional activities to coincide with the June 10 Ayala rally,” he added. With reports from Ron Gagalac and Karen Davila, ABS-CBN News