MANILA, Philippines – A group calling itself the Oust Merci Gutierrez (OMG) coalition on Tuesday mounted a street protest outside La Vista Loyola Grand Villa subdivision in Quezon City on the 64th birthday of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Protesters decorated trees, lampposts and steel railings with peach and orange ribbons to denounce the former President, who is now Pampanga 2nd District congresswoman. They also hoisted balloons that had the words “GMA loves Merci.”
The protesters said ousting Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez would be the first step to hold Arroyo accountable for her crimes during her 9-year presidency.
The group, including former Akbayan party-list representative Risa Hontiveros and Lea Navarro of the Black and White Movement, is set to visit Gutierrez’s house later Tuesday.
The protest will be highlighted by a “re-enactment” of Arroyo’s visit to Gutierrez’s house after the latter was impeached by the House of Representatives. At least 1,500 protesters are expected to attend the street rally.
Gutierrez is facing an impeachment trial before the Senate. She has been accused of shielding Arroyo from graft charges.
Members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-National Capital Region (Bayan-NCR) and the Imprison Arroyo Movement (IAM) also staged a lightning rally at the Department of Justice (DOJ) office in Manila to remind Justice Secretary Leila de Lima of the pending charges against Arroyo.
Representatives of Bayan Muna party-list earlier filed a criminal complaint against Arroyo in connection with the controversial $329 million NBN-ZTE deal.
“We challenge [President Aquino] and the DOJ to grant our birthday wish for GMA and start all possible means to put Arroyo and her cohorts behind bars. Now is the best time for PNoy to make significant move to let Mrs. Arroyo pay the price of his anti-people policies during her nine years stay in the sit of power,” said Bayan-NCR spokesman Paulo Quiza.
Bayan-NCR also backed the P15 million damage suit filed against Arroyo and other military officials by members of the Morong 43 on Monday.
Pineda sings to Arroyo
The former President, meanwhile, started off her birthday celebration by attending Mass at the Paroquia de San Agustine in Lubao, Pampanga.
In attendance during the Mass were Arroyo’s allies including local mayors and board members of Pampanga.
A short program was held after the Mass, highlighted by a song number led by Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda.
Arroyo also gave a short speech after the program. In her speech, the former President said she is now more relaxed and is able to spend more time with her family after the presidency.
She also denied the allegations of graft and corruption leveled against her and her family.
Arroyo will be joining a dental and medical mission later Tuesday. With a report from Trisha Mostoles, ABS-CBN News Pampanga
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Mike Arroyo denies separation with GMA
MANILA, Philippines – Former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo on Tuesday denied rumors that he has separated with former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“Nandito ako e. Saka ang tagal na naming mag-asawa. That will never happen. Never,” he told reporters.
The former First Gentleman was on hand for the former President’s 64th birthday celebration held in Lubao, Pampanga on Tuesday.
This marked the first time that the former President is celebrating her birthday outside of Malacañang. The congresswoman said she is okay with not being President.
“I don’t miss the presidency. I have more private time,” she said.
Congresswoman Arroyo, casually dressed in jeans, an orange shirt and silver shoes, was noticeably glowing for her birthday celebration.
She said: “Marahil may nakakapansin, this is not a facelift but rather [healthy] diet.”
The former First Gentleman revealed that he is falling more in love with the congresswoman, not just because of her positive aura, but also because she is now able to spend more time with her family.
“Mas maganda siya ngayon, mas glowing,” he said.
Mr. Arroyo also defended his wife against the allegations made by six of the so-called Morong 43. He said the allegations are “baseless.”
Six of the so-called Morong 43 filed a P15-million civil suit against government and military officials, including Arroyo, for the alleged injustices they earlier received in the hands of their captors. — Report by Trisha Mostoles, ABS-CBN News Pampanga