Cablegate: Anti-Arroyo Rally Sponsored by Left Draws 10,000

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A


B. MANILA 4875
C. MANILA 3397
D. MANILA 3231

1. (U) This message is Sensitive But Unclassified. Please
handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) Summary: About 10,000 leftist anti-President
Arroyo protesters convened at a site near Malacanang Palace
on October 21. In scuffles with police, several people were
injured. This latest rally is part of a long string of
anti-Arroyo protests going back several months. The Armed
Forces chief has decided against traveling to PACOM this
weekend in light of the "situation," but there are no
indications that it will worsen significantly. End Summary.

3. (U) Approximately 10,000 mainly leftist protesters
gathered near the Mendiola bridge in the vicinity of
Malacanang Palace in Manila on October 21 to demand the
resignation of President Arroyo. The rally was led by
left-wing party list representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy
Casino, and Lisa Masa. By mid-morning, demonstrators from
southern and central Luzon and from Metro Manila faced off
against police in a tense, hostile atmosphere. The group had
obtained a permit to hold a rally at Plaza Miranda (a
well-known protest site) but instead marched on the Mendiola
Bridge, the scene of a clash between protesters and police on
October 14. The Philippine National Police (PNP), in keeping
with the President's "Calibrated Premeditated Response" (CPR)
policy (Ref A), denied the protesters access to areas near
Malacanang where they had no permit to gather. A small group
unsuccessfully tried to break through the police cordon,
leaving at least four protesters and one policeman injured.
In a separate incident, protesters assembling for the rally
in Quezon City reportedly roughed up a man they claimed was a
military intelligence infiltrator before police on the scene
rescued him.

4. (U) Poloff on the margins of the scene reported that, as
of 4:00 PM local time, the crowd had diminished to fewer than
4,000 persons and that the mood had become somewhat calmer.
Most of the demonstrators had withdrawn to the approved rally
area at Plaza Miranda, where leftist politicians gave
speeches and activists performed street theater. The police,
who had called for reinforcements earlier in the day,
including three fire trucks, claimed to have sufficient
forces in place to keep the situation under control and to
protect Malacanang.

5. (SBU) The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, General Generosa Senga, on October 21 informed
Embassy and PACOM that he would not after all attend the
Chiefs of Defense conference at PACOM next week, citing "the
situation." His staff clarified that President Arroyo had
approved his travel this weekend and had not/not requested
that he change these plans.

6. (SBU) Comment: This latest rally is part of a long
string of anti-Arroyo protests going back several months.
While not the largest, it was again highlighted the continued
bad blood between Malacanang and its opponents. Despite
General Senga's caution, there are no indications that the
situation will become more tense or worsen significantly.
End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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