Mendiola: May 1, 2006 - Operation Market Garden?

May 1 came and went without much ado. There were rallies but not much violence, none at all. One of the news shows even showed some riot policeman doing antics to humour his fellow-police men and relieve them of the creeping boredom. Along Paseo De Roxas and Ayala Ave the Riot Police unit were taking a siesta just below the trees of Ugarte Field.

Most of the rallyists were converging in Manila. Their target was Mendiola. However, with a contingent of around a thousand police and a back up of 2000 more the rallyists were contained. You have to hand it to the PNP after several EDSAS and several demonstrations each year they seemed to have perfected the art and science of crowd control. It just goes to prove practice makes perfect.

Yesterday’s activities reminded me of Aesop’s fable about the Labouring Mountain; after days of cataclysmic seismic activity the mountains open up and out comes a mouse. For days the public has been treated to scenarios and demonstration about May 1. The riot police and demonstrators were showing their skill in containing people and in evading arrest. There were even some announcements that revealed that some of those opposed to GMA were planning to do something naughty on May 1. Yet on the day itself nothing happened. Of course this mouse is a welcome development.

(i)Is the strain and fatigue of the Anti-Gloria campaign showing?

(ii)Or did the Supreme Court’s ruling while recognizing the right to assemble also strengthened Batasang Pambansa 880 (the law on public assembly) laying down a demarcation line between the rallyists and the anti-riot police and delineating the rules of the game. It would seem then that the Supreme Court with its “Solomonic Solution” while recognizing liberties is strengthening the right of the state to protect itself. Laying the groundwork for handling dissent.

(iii) Perhaps the more subdued rallies were an effect of freezing and isolation of the Batasan 5 + 1?

The Philippine Daily Inquirer described the non-events in a headline as a bridge too far.

Mendiola: A bridge too far
Protesters claim victory in Recto rally
By Christian Esguerra, Margaux Ortiz, Jerome Aning, Blanche Rivera
Philippine Daily Inquirer

An apt cinematic metaphor using the war film A Bridge Too Far, a treatment of the ill-fated Allied invasion called Operation Market Garden.

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