A day before the 25th celebration of the historic Edsa people power uprising, members of Akbayan party conducted a “people power protest” in Quezon City calling on the Filipino people to defeat the “enemies of Edsa.”

Donned in yellow shirts, headbands and ribbons, the anti-corruption advocates trooped to the Office of the Ombudsman to call on Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to immediately vacate her position. The group also pressed for the prosecution of former president and now-Pamapanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo together with her family and cronies for their alleged “high crimes” against the people.

Edsa’s enemies

In a statement, former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros said the people must mount a new type of people power against corruption.

“Twenty five years ago, we removed a corrupt regime by harnessing our collective strength as a people longing for change. Now, we are urging the people to once again tap that power to defeat the modern enemies of Edsa who are thwarting our efforts to realize important reforms,” former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros said.

Merci, merciful to the corrupt, Gloria, Marcos re-embodiment

Hontiveros referred to Gutierrez as one of the “enemies of Edsa” whom she described as the “protector of the corrupt”.  She also referred to Arroyo stating that the former president is the re-embodiment of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos who will have her “long delayed day of reckoning.” 

“The transgressions of these irredeemable individuals will ultimately catch up with them. The ombudsman who only shows mercy to erring public officials will be impeached. Kaya kung ako sa kanya, huwag na niya hayaang umabot pa sa ganoon. Lisanin na niya ang opisinang inabuso niya,” Hontiveros said.

On the other hand, Arroyo, who Hontiveros said presided over the country’s affairs in an “exceptionally corrupt manner” and with “the same tyrannical streak” as that of Marcos, will “have her day”.

“The legal and institutional fortifications she built to protect herself are gradually eroding. Sa dulo, mananagot si Gloria,” Hontiveros added.

On Tuesday, the Committee on Justice voted 21-5, to proceed with the impeachment proceedings against Gutierrez. The committee also ordered her to respond in 3 days upon receipt of the letter, to respond to the case against her.

The vote was taken despite the dilatory tactics made by Arroyo’s allies inside Congress. Hontiveros said the removal of Gutierrez from her post would make Arroyo vulnerable to prosecution.

“A Gutierrez-free ombudsman will certainly commence the process of making Gloria accountable. The seemingly impervious Arroyo will now be open to prosecution,” Hontiveros said.

Birthday wish

In the middle of the activity’s program, Akbayan announced Hontiveros’ 45th birthday. The group gave her flowers as they greeted her.  Hontiveros thanked her supporters and fellow party members.

“I have only one wish for this year. I hope before the year ends we will see a new ombudsman presiding over a reformed office of the ombudsman,” Hontiveros quipped. 

The event ended with Akbayan tying yellow ribbons at the gates of the Office of the Ombudsman to highlight their call for the immediate removal of Gutierrez and the need to reform the ombudsman. The group left behind Laban symbols with slogans that read “Layas Merci”, Labanan ang corrupt” and Labanan si Gloria.”

The Laban symbol first gained popularity in 1983 during the funeral of the late Senator Benigno Simeon “Ninoy” Aquino. It made a comeback during the funeral of the late President Corazon C.Aquino and was the signature of President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III’s campaign in the 2010 elections. (Akbayan Communications Unit)