Inside out

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(UPDATE 2) Thousands turn out for 12-hour ‘Truth Fest’

Posted by Abi Kwok on August 22, 2008

Traffic snarled on northbound lane of Roxas Blvd

By Abigail Kwok
First Posted 13:30:00 08/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Thousands of people have turned out for a 12-hour “Truth Fest” at the Rajah Sulaiman Plaza on Roxas Boulevard in Manila from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday.

The participants, from militant labor, youth, church and other sectoral and civil society groups, carried banners and were escorted by marching bands as they converged on the site of the activity, where they were greeted by “gigantes,” giant figures traditionally used during the fiesta in Antipolo City.

The overnight activity comes a day after the 25th death anniversary of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., whose murder in 1983 helped spawn the mass protest movement that would eventually oust the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and replace him with Aquino’s widow, Corazon, the country’s first woman president.

Members of the artists’ coalition Tutok have painted the road with various derogatory images of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo against a backdrop of the American flag with bullets instead of stars.

Tutok coordinator Iggy Rodriguez said the backdrop symbolized US intervention in Philippine affairs, including the continuing conflict in Mindanao.

The images of Arroyo, on the other hand, are related to various issues raised against her.

Among these are of Arroyo dancing the cha-cha, a reference to Charter change, which is often shortened into the popular ballroom dance, and of a crucified Filipino with the President as Pontius Pilate.

As with traditional fiestas, the streets are lined with stalls selling food and various merchandise including books.

Traffic is snarled on the northbound lane of Roxas Boulevard, which has been closed from Quirino Avenue to Pedro Gil.

Among the personalities spotted at the protest are Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes, former social welfare secretary Corazon Soliman and Dante Madriaga.

The Truth Fest will feature a concert, art exhibits, films and a performance of the Philippine Dragonboat Team.

The activity will seek to set a new world record for a “voice choir” that will recite a “litany of untruths” allegedly committed by the Arroyo administration, Reyes said, including the “Hello Garci” scandal involving purported wiretaps of the President and a former election official allegedly discussing how to rig the 2004 elections in her favor, and the scandal-tainted national broadband network (NBN) deal, to which Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel have been implicated.

“It will be a venue for creative and innovative ways to encourage truth-telling and to search for truth,” said Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB, of Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP).

Mananzan also stressed that the event would not be a venue for politicians to campaign for the 2010 elections.

“Pwede silang magsalita, pero hindi sila pwedeng mangampanya [They can talk but they can’t campaign],” she added.

Independent film makers are expected to make a documentary film on the “Truth Fest,” featuring different perspectives of the event.

Hundreds of students belonging to the League of Filipino Students (LFS), Youth Act Now, and Anakbayan walked out of their classes at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Adamson University, and Philippine Christian University Friday morning to kick off the Truth Fest.

“Arroyo’s game plan and scenario-building are becoming more obvious by the minute. First, Charter change, then Arroyo and her militarist-thinking advisers are now manipulating the Mindanao conflict to sow an atmosphere of panic and chaos even in Manila and other regions,” said LFS chairman Vencer Crisostomo.

“Instead of self-serving schemes, Arroyo should address the present economic crisis burdening the people. Last we checked oil prices are still at record-high levels, the lines at NFA retail shops are not getting any shorter and the government is earning more windfalls via the VAT at the expense of our poor countrymen,” said Ken Ramos, Anakbayan national chair.


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