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AFP still won’t join rally even with 1M people–Esperon

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:58:00 02/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. has maintained that as long as the mass actions against the government were peaceful, troops would not intervene.

Esperon issued the statement ahead of the interfaith rally later this Friday in Makati City where organizers said at least 100,000 people were expected to attend.

Esperon added that if the crowd at the interfaith rally would swell to one million, the military would still stay put.

Security in the capital was placed on red alert for the rally to be staged by thousands of religious leaders, left-wing militants, opposition politicians, and students to demand President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation on corruption allegations.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has deployed 5,000 troops to secure vital points in the metropolis while 3,000 soldiers from the Armed Forces National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) were placed on standby.

“It doesn’t make a difference, as long as things are done peacefully [and] without violence,” Esperon told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo, when asked if a huge crowd would convince the military to join the anti-government protesters, as it did in the 1986 and 2001 People Power uprisings.

Days ahead of the protest, which organizers said would gather a crowd of 100,000, text messages circulated in military circles that soldiers would intervene if the anti-government crowd swelled to one million.

“I chastise those who would want the military to intervene because after ’86, what we should have done was to strengthen our democratic institutions and if you say that we have to continuously intervene, then, we must be failing in our maturing process as a nation,” he said.

“I’m sorry to tell those who are urging us to take to the streets and join destabilization attempts. The more that you call the military to intervene, the more you weaken democracy,” he said.

Arroyo is facing fresh calls for her resignation amid allegations that she and her husband, Jose Miguel, pocketed millions of dollars in kickbacks from the botched $329-million national broadband network project.

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Written by joelguinto

Fri+00:002008-02-29T13:47:18+00:00+00:0002b+00:00Fri, 29 Feb 2008 13:47:18 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm02

Posted in Uncategorized

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