Philippine government warns of disorder in anti-president rallies

Police will crack down on unauthorized or unruly protest rallies seeking the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo the Philippine government warned, Wednesday, as opposition groups marked the 33rd anniversary of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' declaration of martial law.

Thousands were expected to converge at the financial district of Makati city for a rally organized by the Coalition for Truth, a broad alliance of opposition parties and left-wing groups whose bid to impeach Arroyo was defeated by her congressional allies.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, a senior member of Arroyo's Cabinet, said intelligence reports pointed to "credible plans of anti-government groups to inflame the political situation, sow disorder and incite people against the duly constituted authorities."

He said police were under orders to strictly enforce a "no-permit-no-rally" policy and disperse rallies "that run afoul of this standard, and arrest all persons violating the laws of the land as well as ordinances."

"The authorities will not stand aside while those with ill intent are herding a witting or unwitting mass of people and inciting them into actions that are inimical to public order, and the peace of mind of the national community," Ermita said in a statement.

The Makati rally has been given permission by Mayor Jejomar Binay, an opposition party leader.

Other groups affiliated with the left-wing Labor Party planned smaller rallies in several areas around the capital.

Party chairman Rene Magtubo said his group had no permit, but was unfazed by the government's threat to stop them.

"We expect this move from a government that is fearful and lacks support from the people," he said. "Why don't they just openly declare martial law instead? On our part, we will still use our rights to express our opposition to this government through peaceful protests," reports the AP.

Photo: the AFP

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