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Prayer vigil at ESDA Shrine to protest PDAF

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In the middle of EDSA, at a site where Filipinos have toppled presidents, citizens will hold a prayer vigil Wednesday, September 11, to protest the all forms of pork barrel.

EDSA Tayo is another mass action event that started with a Facebook event launched a few days after the #MillionPeopleMarch. EDSA Tayo's organizers aren't promising one million attendees but somewhere closer to 5,000, according to the official Facebook event.

Organizers say it is not a political rally. Banners, placards, effigies or bullhorns are not allowed during EDSA Tayo.

However, at least twice throughout the day, police intervened in the protest after some protesters brought out banners and placards. Marchers composed of Anakbayan, Piston, Migrante, and Kilusang Mayo Uno arrived at the EDSA Shrine at around 2:30 pm, a little after the inter-faith prayer started.

One police officer ripped one protester's anti-pork placard, resulting in a quick altercation between police forces and the marchers. 

NO PLACARDS. A police officer rips apart one protester's placard at the EDSA Tayo u0022prayer vigil.

u0022 Photo by Mark Demayo

Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo condemned police action. "Hindi pa rin po kami pinapasok. Hindi namin maintindihan bakit pinapalaki nila ang isyu ng mga banner at poster. Martial law po ba? Mali po yung kanilang ginawa at nanggugulo sila sa protestang ito," he said. 

(They're not letting us in. We don't understand why they're making a big deal of the banners and posters. Are we under Martial Law? What they did was wrong.)

While the marchers were figuring out how to enter the site, the crowd already there started chanting, urging police to let them in. After a few minutes, the marchers made their way in and the inter-faith prayer resumed. 

The event was scheduled to start at 11 am and will end by 4 pm, to prevent heavy traffic jams along Metro Manila's busiest avenue. But by 9 am a crowd was already forming in front and around the shrine, composed of people from different walks of life — nuns, students, civic groups and the occasional curious bystander.

Meanwhile in Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, students from nearby schools — Miriam College, Ateneo de Manila University, and the University of the Philippines — staged a "joint action" against the pork barrel system. 

At 12 nn, a mass will be held by Father Nilo Mangusad, EDSA Shrine rector. Professors Winnie Monsod and Liling Briones will hold a lecture on the pork barrel system at 1 pm and by 2 pm, an inter-faith "presentation of prayer" will be held.

The event has a few glitches along the way. Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista took his time in issuing a permit for the vigil, but ultimately decided not to grant one.

Organizers said permits won't really matter, as the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Metro Manila police force already gave their go signal.

The MMDA implemented alternative routes for motorists in light of the event -Rappler.com