Bayan sets protest actions for Arroyo’s ouster

"We've tried calling for GMA's resignation and impeachment last year but to no avail.   Arroyo has tried all the dirty tactics just to stay in power," Bebiano Gabo, spokesman of BAYAN Muna in North Cotabato, said.

Gabo claimed that people in the countryside were tired of the government's promises of good life.

"Still, people languish in dire poverty, especially those at the countryside," he said.

Aside from protest rallies, the group will launch forums and discussions about good governance, transparency, and accountability.

"This is to let people understand that graft and corruption is widespread in the government and that something must be done," he said in the vernacular.

Arroyo's stay in power, Bayan said, has been assured and protected by her cohorts in the military, police, and local government officials.

The group has also accused the US government of backing Arroyo.

"She can't stay in power without the support of the US government.   Since the time she assumed power, the President has always stuck to the US government, especially its campaign against terror," said Gabo.

The rally on Monday will also focus on Bayan's opposition to the holding of Balikatan, a military exercise between Philippine and US troops, in North Cotabato.

The Balikatan will start on February 18 in a remote village in Midsayap, North Cotabato believed to be influenced by the Moro rebels.

But Army officials in Southwestern Mindanao claimed it will not include war games or military exercises between the Philippine and the American troops. They said it will focus on medical and dental civic action program and engineering civic action program

Reports said there will also be humanitarian missions in Pikit, North Cotabato, and Datu Piang in Maguindanao.

But Bayan Muna in North Cotabato believes that regardless of its activities, Balikatan is just a 'disguise'.

"The US government is using the Balikatan to check on the areas where they can possibly have access to the natural resources," said Ruby Padilla-Sison, chair of Gabriela-North Cotabato.

The areas where Balikatan would be held reportedly have deposits of natural resources. Liguasan Marsh, for example, is believed to be rich in natural gas.

The towns of Midsayap, Pikit, and Datu Piang are part of the marsh, the group said.  (MindaNews)