Philippines tightens security ahead of anti-government protest

Other News Materials 15 February 2008 08:12 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa )- Additional troops were dispatched to the Philippine capital Friday ahead of an anti-government protest to demand President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's resignation amid persistent allegations of corruption.

A group of 100 soldiers arrived at the military's headquarters in Manila from the northern province of Tarlac to augment security operations for the demonstration later in the day.

The military said the additional troops would help "ensure that socio-economic and political activities within the capital will continue to be unhampered and to enable the populace to feel secured."

Troops in the national capital region were on red alert status amid reports that communist rebels and other threat groups were plotting to disrupt the anti-government rally in the financial district of Makati.

Organizers said the protest would be the first in a series of demonstrations against Arroyo, who has been battling calls for her resignation over corruption and fraud allegations for the past two years.

The rally was expected to be attended by about 5,000 leftist activists, students, workers as well as representatives of the business community, the Church and civil society organizations.

The Management Association of the Philippines, a business group that has backed the protest action, called on the military and police "to support the people and the constitution."

In a statement published in major newspapers Friday, the association urged the military and police to "not allow themselves to be used by those who continually violate the oath of public office and betray the people's trust for their personal aggrandizement."

"We unequivocally join the call for communal action to regain moral compass, and with it, our nation's dignity and self-respect," it added. "The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men and women to do nothing."

Top military officials have assured loyalty to Arroyo amid public outcry over new allegations that the president's husband and political allies were involved in the overpricing of a scrapped government contract with a Chinese company.