Influential Roman Catholic bishops held an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss how to deal with a political crisis battering President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government over corruption allegations.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, which played a key role in nonviolent revolts that ousted two leaders in the last two decades, has called on the public to find out the truth about bribery allegations implicating Arroyo's husband.
So far, the bishops have not joined widespread calls for Arroyo to step down _ a move crucial to her ability to weather the political crisis.
They have hailed a star witness who exposed the alleged large-scale bribery and called for a "communal action" to fight corruption, but the ambiguity of their message has left some people disappointed.
Archbishop Oscar Cruz said the bishops, who normally meet in January and July each year, decided to try to forge a common stand on the bribery scandal, including calls for Arroyo's removal from office.
"We have different voices and people notice, so hopefully in this meeting, we can come up with a common stand," Cruz told ABS-CBN television.
Bishop Deogracias Yniquez, who speaks for the group, said it was not clear whether the result of the one-day discussions will be immediately made public.
Thousands of left-wing and church-backed activists took to the streets Monday to demand Arroyo's resignation on the anniversary of the 1986 "people power" revolt that toppled late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Military and police generals, along with 4,000 police officers, staged their own "unity walk" to show loyalty to Arroyo amid coup rumors. Pro-Arroyo lawmakers also led a rally by more than 3,000 people.
Protesters have been galvanized by anti-corruption hearings at the Senate that exposed an anomalous telecommunications contract that allegedly involved kickbacks to senior officials and the president's husband.
All those involved have denied the allegations. But Arroyo caused more stir Saturday by acknowledging she was warned last April about possible corruption in the US$330 million (