Protest numbers swell against President Arroyo
About 30,000 people march in Manila calling for the President's impeachment and resignation.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Around 30,000 people have marched in the Filipino capital of Manila, calling on President Gloria Arroyo to quit.

Ms Arroyo faces allegations that she is involved in scandals tied to the gambling world.

Renato Reyes, one of the organisers of the march, said that "it is clear what people want: the President's immediate resignation".

He explained that the anti-Arroyo forces have raised 25 million Filipino pesos (about US$ 450,000) to get "a million people into the streets by Saturday".

The Bishops' Conference of the Philippines after a recent meeting released a statement distanced itself from the ongoing situation.

The organisation is known for its internal divisions as clearly shown by the contradictory views of bishops calling for Ms Arroyo's immediate resignation.

Despite this, the prelates agree that an impartial commission must be set up to investigate allegations of corruption made against the President.

The Armed Forces have by contrast reiterated their absolute neutrality even though AsiaNews sources in Manila have spoken of "massive military presence in the streets of the capital".

Army officials have declared that the deployment of troops is designed to prevent "infiltrations" among the people taking part in the rally, i.e. Islamic rebels of Communist insurgents.