Martial law authorities stopped a scheduled rally today in support of two Filipino nurses who were convicted in Detroit July 13 of charges of poisoning patients.
About 5,000 nurses and nursing students had been expected to attend the rally in Manila's largest public park, according to a spokeswoman for the Philippine Nurses Association sponsor of the rally. She said she was notified last night by the No. 2 man in the police department that the permit to hold the rally had been canceled "by orders of higher authority." This would normally mean the Metropolitan Command - the military brigade responsible for enforcing martial law in the greater Manila area.
Informed sources said that the rally was canceled because of indications that it might become an antigovernment demonstration.
The nurses' spokeswoman said that her group was the first granted permission by the martial law authorities to hold an outdoor rally. (Rallies and demonstrations have been prohibited for the past five years by presidential decree). She said that the terms of the permit specified that speakers would not allowed to make "libelous or seditionus statements" or statements that might harm relations between the Philippines and the United States.
She also said that people at the rally were not to be allowed to walk in group of more than five persons or to present any petitions to the U.S. Embassy.
Police were stationed in the park and at the nearby embassy as the hour for the rally approached. Since news of the cancellation had been broadcast on radio stations only a few nurses showed up.
Filipinos have reacted to the Detroit trial with expressions of dismay at American justice. One newspaper editorial said: "The verdict graphically shows how discrimination has blurred the American dream of freedom, democracy, and equal opportunities for all." President Ferdinand Marcos' brothers. Dr. Pacifico Marcos termed the verdict "America's greatest travesty of human rights."
The two nurses, Filipina Narciso, 31, and Leonora Perez, 33, were convicted of poisoning five patients. In the Veterans Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor, Minn., with injections of paralzying drugs. They are free on bond, and their lawyers have said they will appeal.
There are about 40,000 Filipino nurses in the United States. An additional 1,000 migrate here yearly.