Boos and cries of “epal” greeted ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona when he went to Luneta Park on Monday for the citizen-initiated protest to force the abolition of the pork barrel and the punishment of the people who stole the funds.
Corona arrived with his wife, Cristina, at Quirino Grandstand in the morning, joining the crowd that had gathered near one of several makeshift stages in the area where speakers from different groups were railing against the pork barrel.
The Coronas came in white and were accompanied by several friends.
When one of the speakers announced Corona’s presence, some members of the crowd booed loudly and called him epal, Filipino slang for attention-grabber.
But the couple stayed for a few minutes and joined the singing of the patriotic song “Bayan Ko,” with the former Chief Justice raising a clenched fist in the air.
Reporters soon swarmed around the Coronas and threw questions at the ousted chief magistrate.
But Corona did not answer any of the questions, keeping his mouth shut though flashing a small smile at one point. His wife also did not say anything.
Corona’s friend, who identified herself as Tet Andolong, told reporters that they were just joining the march.
“That’s all. No politics,” she said.
The Coronas then walked away from the crowd and returned to their vehicle. But before reaching it, people who saw them booed the couple and called them epal again.
Some of the people followed the Coronas to their vehicle, heckling them all the way until the vehicle drove away.
The crowd’s behavior did not sit well with one supporter of Corona, who yelled at the hecklers: “What evidence do you have?”
Corona was ousted as Chief Justice last year after the Senate impeachment court convicted him of dishonesty in making his financial disclosure.
Corona had accused the Aquino administration of harassing his family in the course of the impeachment trial.
Critics said the administration-backed impeachment of Corona was railroaded by the President’s allies.
A handful of people also cried epal when they saw actors and TV hosts Richard Gutierrez, Georgina Wilson and Isabelle Daza at Quirino Grandstand but the crowd did not join the shouting.
More people instead gawked at show-biz celebrities like Edu Manzano, Gloria Diaz and Mariel Rodriguez-Padilla.
There were also look-alikes of Sen. Bong Revilla, one of the senators involved in the P10 billion Napoles scam; Manny Pacquiao and his coach Freddie Roach.
Getting a friendlier reception were former lawmakers Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III and Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay.
Tañada declined to grant interviews. He was seen chatting and shaking hands with several participants in the event.
Magsaysay also talked with several protesters and allowed herself to be photographed with them.
Quietly eyeballing the scene was Emanuel V. Soriano, at 42 the youngest to serve as president of the University of the Philippines. He suffered a stroke 17 years ago and is now wheelchair-bound. The 77-year-old academic could barely speak.
Daughter Rina said he had a list of senators allegedly involved in the alleged pork barrel scam. Asked what he wanted to happen to them, Soriano raised his left hand, four fingers clenched, thumb pointing to his back. “He wants them kicked out,” said Rina.
Students from Ateneo distributed leaflets carrying the names of senators and congressmen with huge pork allotments.
Corona joins ‘Million People March’, heckled