Filipino police, military support beleaguered President

February 25th, 2008 - 5:01 pm ICT by admin  

Manila, Feb 25 (DPA) Top Philippines police and military officials Monday vowed loyalty to beleaguered President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as thousands of anti-government protesters joined demonstrations to demand her resignation. The demonstrations coincided with the commemoration of the 22nd anniversary of the four-day 1986 bloodless people power revolution that ousted late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Thousands marched to the historic Mendiola Bridge, a few meters from the Malacanang presidential palace, while more protesters attempted to break through a barricade of policemen to reach a shrine built to commemorate the 1986 uprising along the main EDSA highway.

Pro-administration officials headed by Arroyo’s two sons, who are elected lawmakers, held their own rally in support of the government in the Liwasang Bonifacio park in downtown Manila.

The crowd in the pro-Arroyo rally was brought in air-conditioned buses from the northern provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Arroyo’s home province, and Nueva Ecija.

Deputy Presidential spokesman Anthony Golez said Arroyo has no hand in organizing the pro-administration rally.

“The palace is not organizing any convergence activities particularly on issues covering our headlines,” he said. “The organizers of the gathering may be beneficiaries of the economic programs of our president who are expressing gratitude.”

General Hermogenes Esperon, armed forces chief of staff, said the chain of command was “solid” behind the Arroyo administration amid speculation that some junior officers of both the military and police were planning to join the anti-government demonstrations.

“We assure the Filipino nation of our unequivocal allegiance to our flag and constitution and we give our word not to engage in partisan political exercise,” he said.

Police Director General Avelino Razon added that the police force was focused on protecting the country’s democracy and ensuring that no untoward incident occurred during the demonstrations.

“The national police remains united and loyal behind the constitution and duly constituted authorities,” he said. “Our chain of command is inviolable and respected by all personnel.”

Arroyo has blocked three impeachment bids and quashed at least two coup attempts since 2005, when she was accused of rigging the presidential elections the year before. She has rejected calls for her resignation and vowed to finish her term in 2010.

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