Arroyo may suffer Thaksin's fate

Activists accused President Arroyo of repression and corruption and warned that she could suffer the same fate as Thailand's ousted leader.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2006 14:35 IST

Thousands of left-wing activists converging on Thursday on the Philippine capital for a rally to denounce a wave of political killings accused President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of repression and corruption and warned that she could suffer the same fate as Thailand's ousted leader.

Protesters were expected to gather at a public square in Manila, with similar rallies scheduled to take place in the US and at least nine other countries to highlight the killings of left-wing activists in the Philippines.

The rally also marks the 34th anniversary of martial law by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The anti-government groups warned Arroyo she may suffer the same fate as Marcos-- toppled in a 1986 "people power" revolt-- or Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a bloodless coup on Tuesday.

"Mrs Arroyo is charting the same path of corruption and repression taken by both Marcos and Thaksin," said Carol Araullo, the chairwoman of the left-wing alliance Bayan.

"Arroyo has every reason to be afraid right now because historical precedents are not in her favour."

"Abusive and power-hungry leaders are meant to be overthrown in all ways possible," said May One Labor Movement chairman Elmer Labog.

Opposition groups, human rights watchdogs and increasingly foreign governments have expressed alarm over a spate of killings targeting left-wing activists.

Arroyo also has been dogged by vote-rigging and corruption allegations.

In the first six months of this year, Amnesty International has recorded 51 political killings in the Philippines, compared with 66 for all of 2005.

Karapatan, a prominent local human rights group, has reported at least 319 political activists were among 752 people who have been killed since 2001, when Arroyo took power, as a result of the government's campaign to defeat a raging communist insurgency.

Local activists have pointed a finger at security forces, but military officials, who refer to the groups as communist fronts, have denied the charge and challenged them to file court cases.

Arroyo last month created a commission to investigate the slayings, but many doubted the government's resolve, pointing to a chequered human rights record.

"Several times in the past year, the Arroyo administration has displayed a disturbing tendency to go overboard in using state power to suppress dissent," The Philippine Star daily said in an editorial.

It said that on the 34th anniversary of Marcos' martial law declaration -- which lasted until 1981 -- "the administration should remember the perils of misusing state power."

First Published: Sep 21, 2006 14:35 IST