The emergence of Corazon Aquino as a leader of the street protests targeting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is setting up a showdown between the president and the woman she once described as her political role model. Mrs Aquino, 72, yesterday led thousands of people onto the streets in a bid to oust Mrs Arroyo after Congress dismissed an attempt to impeach her. Political analyst Billy Esposo said: 'With Mrs Aquino, the political opposition has been sidelined in favour of a larger constituency opting for the removal of the president.' She has ironically succeeded in forming a working coalition with the opposition, led by its inspirational leader Susan Roces, widow of the late actor Fernando Poe Jnr who lost to Mrs Arroyo in last year's elections. Mrs Aquino has so far dodged questions about any military component in her newly formed 'Unity for Truth' coalition. 'Maybe I am not the one who should say anything about that because I have been a commander-in-chief, but I do still have friends in the military,' she said. 'What is important here is the support of the people, and the military will just go where the people go.' Mr Esposo predicted that 'the entry of the Cory factor can generate better participation from the citizenry'. He added that 'the Cory factor deals a big blow to Mrs Arroyo internationally'. The international community remembers former president Aquino with fondness for leading a bloodless popular uprising against former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. While Mrs Arroyo is about to make her international debut next week when she chairs the summit of the United Nations Security Council, Mr Esposo said the presidential palace should read the signs and be worried. Students from eight top Catholic universities have started lighting candles to protest against the dismissal of impeachment proceedings against Mrs Arroyo. Joel Rocamora, director of the private Institute for Popular Democracy, said Mrs Aquino's 'magic has always been with a specific segment of the population. That is the upper-middle class to upper class, and I think in that segment of the population she's still seen as a moral leader'. Presidential palace press secretary Ignacio Bunye said 'we do not doubt' the so-called Cory magic.