Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Whither Asia's pioneers of protest?

Corruption cases against Filipino President Arroyo haven't sparked another 'people power' revolt.

Moral authority: Clergy led past revolts against corrupt leaders, but some bishops like Deogracias Iniguez now say they shouldn't interfere in politics.

david montero

About these ads

As President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo found herself engulfed in a kickback scandal in February, she received a delegation of 40 priests at the Presidential Palace.

On the face of it, the sight was familiar: Corruption brought priests – including prominent opposition leader Cardinal Jaime Sin – to the palace doors in 1986, where they led thousands of citizens in toppling Ferdinand Marcos, one of Asia's longest-ruling strongmen. Their People Power Revolution inspired democratic outbursts around the world. Filipinos did it again in 2001, with Cardinal Sin again leading thousands to force out President Joseph Estrada – and put Ms. Arroyo in.

But the priests who turned up at Arroyo's door in February came not to protest, but to offer a prayer in support.

The move shocked many in the Philippines, and critics say it underlined a dramatic change: Arroyo has divided the Catholic church here more than at any other time in its history, blunting its moral authority as a force of opposition to government corruption. That is a central reason why, despite repeated outcries for the president's resignation, a "people power" revolution has not materialized again.


Page 1 of 4

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.