CEBU CITY, NOVEMBER 7, 2003  (STAR) — If it were only left to Cebuanos, the feared constitutional crisis would have ended now and there would be no impeachment of Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.

In an unprecedented spectacle, Cebuanos by the tens of thousands, at least a hundred thousand by police and independent estimates, converged at Fuente Osmeña Tuesday afternoon to show to the rest of the nation their indignation at Davide’s impeachment.

Lawyers, doctors, educators, students, religious, public and private employees and urban poor all converged at Fuente from four major staging points.

There, they met up with former President Corazon Aquino in an ecumenical prayer rally calling for a speedy, peaceful and honorable resolution of the crisis that has sent disturbing ripples through the economy and once again brought on the specter of military intervention.

And because the organizers were careful not to lend political color to the affair, no political leader, except Aquino, was allowed to speak at the rally.

Even President Arroyo, who had wanted to come, was politely refused. She was instead allowed to send her daughter Luli as representative.

Politicians who insisted on coming, like Rep. Raul del Mar who had staunchly defended Davide, were left to mingle with the crowd unacknowledged.

Members of the city council went straight from their regular session to join but were similarly left to mingle also unacknowledged with the crowd.

Aquino, who was responsible for appointing Davide as associate justice in 1991, urged Cebuanos to unite in forestalling a constitutional crisis that is now in grave danger of being exploited by opportunists and send the country plunging deeper into political instability and economic ruin.

Aquino said if the crisis is not overcome, all Filipinos, whether for or against the impeachment, will suffer.

"I am not sure whether our already suffering people can take on more suffering," she added.

She also said the impeachment goes beyond Davide and the Supreme Court and has something to do with the responsible exercise of legislative power, proper checks and balances in government, and the integrity of government institutions.

The former president, whose mounting of a civil disobedience campaign against Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 sparked a people-backed military revolt that toppled the regime and installed her in power, lamented that the country after more than 17 years since Marcos fled, is still grappling with the same problems.

Aquino recalled that in 1986 when she came to power, one of the first steps she took was the restoration of the formal institutions of democracy.

"We cannot expect to attain a respectable and sustained level of economic growth and prosperity in our country unless the very foundations of such a development, our political and governmental institutions, are strong," she said.

Aquino said like the pro-impeachment people, she and those who are united behind Davide are merely exercising their democratic right and duty to inform the people about the issues according to their perception to protect and defend the democratic institutions from assaults on their independence and integrity.— Freeman News Service

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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