ANc suggests Susan Roces will make her appearance at the Ayala Avenue rally at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, AM radio suggests rallyists from outside Manila are being blocked at the Coastal Road (a governor was reportedly complaining of protesters being hosed down with water cannon), at the North Expressway in Quezon City, at the South Expressway leading to Makati City. On television, Sec. Mike Defensor says the opposition forces have reduced their expectations from 50,000 people to 12,000 (that’s still three times the official estimates of previous rallies, which ranged from 3-5,000). The military and police have become quite successful at heading off marchers.
In the blogosphere, Sassy looks at what she believes is the President’s game plan for a dignified exit (and I agree, Sassy is on the right track); Expectorants takes a look at the “imperial Manila” argument; Ronnel Lim observes the Labor Secretary has shapely legs; PCIJ looks at the latest surveys, which Newsstand says indicates the “outrage gap” has narrowed (but we still need a national one); Jove continues his blogging on Palace events; Tina Panganiban-Perez recounts amusing exchanges during yesterday’s Senate hearings; Punzi defines conspiracies.
Malaya and the Tribune report that Department of Foreign Affairs diplomats are getting restive. Moody’s Investors Services is cutting the country’s bond rating from stable to negative. The American Chamber of Commerce makes an appeal to keep things constitutional. Petron’s union has filed a notice to strike (which will affect the economy). Sen. Manuel Roxas II opposes charter change now, saying in a statement that,
It is like putting out fire with kerosene. Instead of preventing further damage, it will only result in conflagration and create a long term negative effect on our economy. In tumultuous times, tinkering with the Constitution will make the situation more turbulent.
Rep. Teddy Locsin says the House is fed up with ex-commissioner Garcellano ignoring subpoenas to attend hearings; he says they will wait three days before issuing a warrant of arrest. He says they need to send summons twice, which, if ignored, can then trigger the House asking the Executive to issue the warrant of arrest. Locsin says the House considers Garcellano a more pressing need, “rather worse because is contemptuous of the House,” while Ong can at least claim he is afraid for his life (but they will also eventually issue a warrant for Ong).
Palace Press conference, now: Executive Secretary Ermita clarifies that the President has shifted her preference to a Constitutional Convention to a Constituent Assembly, but backpedals on whether this means the President has agreed to shorten her term; Palace reaction to rally: Ermita says “indeed there is a plan by opposition… to put on the pressure for them to be able to achieve their call… these are preparations for their big day, which is July 25…” Does he deny government is trying to prevent rallyists from attending? Ermita: “It’s normal for authorities to keep things under control… We are merely enforcing the law, for example buses have their own franchise lines, and the LTO has to do its job to see if the buses are sticking to their franchise routes…Not to scare our people, but the threat of terrorism is ever-present… Did we ever know several days ago, that something would happen in London?… We had Bali bombing, the Madrid thing… We just want to make sure government will be in a position to prevent this.” Are NPA out to cause trouble? Ermita: “This is very probable… We received information… concerning Bicol… And as for the Abu Sayaf, they could take a boat ride or land transportation and arrive incognito… Don’t misunderstand me, I’m being truthful and careful… I am the chairman of the anti-terrorism task force… that’s why I’m getting intelligence from our people in the ground.” Is President being used by Ramos and de Venecia so that they can become prime minister? Ermita: “We can’t avoid speculation… President Arroyo has her own mind… Let’s give her credit for having her own programs and visions for charter change… People are imputing motives simply because Ramos and de Venecia as party officials rallied to the President’s support.”Also, Ermita confirms that the President’s party, Kampi, has decided to merge with the Lakas-CMD.