Thousands of Filipinos call for President Arroyo's resignation; former presidents join protest

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the World Economic Forum in 2007.

Tens of thousands of Filipinos called for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's resignation in the streets of Manila in the wake of a corruption scandal. Among the protesters were nuns, farmers, students, and even two former Presidents.

Former Presidents Corazón Aquino and Joseph Estrada, known for being bitter rivals, joined the group in demanding that President Arroyo resign.

"I thought my work was done because I am already old," said Aquino, 75. "But this is what the times ask for, for us to unite so that the deceit will end and we will find out the truth. Thankfully there are still many of us shouting, 'Gloria, enough, resign already.'"

Soldiers and policemen were on high alert, setting up checkpoints at major highways as demonstrators gathered in Manila's financial district. Police estimated there to be about 15,000 protesters, while organizers estimated the crowd at about 80,000.

Aquino was one of Arroyo's most loyal supporters until breaking away in 2005 amid allegations that she had rigged the 2004 election. In a recent survey of inhabitants of the island Mindanao commissioned by an opposition party, 58% of respondents believed Arroyo had rigged the elections.

Arroyo has been criticised because her husband had attempted to influence the approval of a $330 million government contract with the Chinese company ZTE to build a broadband network connecting government offices.