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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Irony

Talk about Irony. People usually wear RED on Valentine's Day, indeed, the city is ALL RED ...

Read on...

Security forces on alert ahead of anti-gov’t protests

Associated Press
First Posted 11:05:00 02/14/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- Philippines security forces were on high alert Thursday amid concerns that communist rebels planned to infiltrate protests to demand the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo over mounting corruption allegations.

Captain Carlo Ferrer, military spokesman, said intelligence reports indicated the communists planned to disrupt an opposition-led rally Friday "to create confusion and chaos." The rebels vowed Wednesday to intensify attacks to weaken the government, but they have largely refrained from assaults that could hurt civilians during their four-decade insurgency.

Opposition leaders dismissed the military's announcement as a ploy to discourage crowds from joining the protest in Makati, Manila's financial district.

Political tensions have increased since the dramatic emergence last week of corruption witness, former government consultant Rodolfo Lozada Jr., who linked a former elections chief and Arroyo's husband to an allegedly overpriced $329 million government broadband contract in a Senate testimony. Both men have denied the allegations.

Arroyo has survived three opposition impeachment bids and four attempted power grabs, mainly due to the support of loyal generals and a formidable political coalition during her seven tumultuous years in power.

She has been accused of rigging the 2004 election and was later implicated by opposition politicians in a series of corruption scandals, along with members of her family. Arroyo has rejected the allegations and vowed to finish her term until 2010.

The government is afraid that the upcoming protests could snowball into a nonviolent "people power" revolt, similar to the uprisings that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Estrada in 2001 over allegations of massive corruption and misrule.

Arroyo, who helped lead the 2001 protests, succeeded Estrada and won a six-year mandate in 2004.

National police chief Avelino Razon Jr. said authorities were trying to verify the alleged communist plot to hijack the opposition rallies.

Police will guard against violence and ban protests at a popular pro-democracy shrine and near the presidential palace in Manila, Razon told The Associated Press. Security personnel were erecting checkpoints in key points across the capital.

Left-wing activists and a prestigious group of business executives, the Makati Business Club, were backing the planned Friday protest. Groups linked to the influential Roman Catholic Church, which hailed the anti-corruption expose in the Senate, planned a separate prayer rally to be led by former president and pro-democracy icon Corazon Aquino over the weekend.