THE crowd started gathering on Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati this morning and by mid-afternoon, according to the opposition, had swollen to 65,000 people. It was the biggest ever anti-Arroyo rally mounted by the political opposition and civil society since the "Hello Garci" controversy broke in early June.
(Police estimated the crowd initially at 30,000 and later at 15,000.)
"The basis of unity is the call for (President Arroyo’s) resignation and nothing more — for now," said House minority floor leader Francisco Escudero.
Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said the rally was the outcome of meetings of 50 political parties and nongovernment organizations.
He said the "Hyatt 10" — referring to seven Cabinet members and three agency heads who resigned last Friday and called on the president to step down — helped in the mobilization.
Escudero said the former Cabinet members have agreed to testify if impeachment proceedings are initiated against Arroyo.
The prominent personalities in the Makati rally include Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Rep. Satur Ocampo, former Sen. Ernesto Maceda, former University of the Philippines president Francisco Nemenzo, former defense secretary Renato de Villa and showbiz personalities Lorna Tolentino, Armida Siguion Reyna, Carlitos Siguion Reyna and Bibeth Orteza.
Representatives of Akbayan, Partido Manggagawa, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, An Waray, Moro National Liberation Front and Courage (an organization of government employees), among other groups, also joined the rally calling for the president’s resignation.
Serving as marshals for the personalities were people clad in T-shirts that read "Guardians Brotherhood Inc.," an organization of active and retired members of the military.
The crowd was awaiting the appearance of Susan Roces, widow of opposition presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr.
Roces had called on Arroyo to resign after the president publicly admitted on June 27 calling a Comelec official in connection with the May 2004 elections.