January 28, 2011
Anakbayan, a militant group of young workers, professionals, and students today hailed the successful popular uprising in the North African nation of Tunisia against its former dictator, saying it is a warning to President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III whose policies they say mirror that of his North African counterpart.
The 23-year reign of the Tunisian dictator, ex-President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, was ended by massive protests against widespread unemployment, rising food prices, lack of basic social services, and political repression. The protests were sparked by the suicide of a college graduate who resorted to selling fruits and vegetables because he was unable to find a job, and whose wares were confiscated by the police.
Anakbayan spokesperson Vencer Crisostomo hailed the successful uprising, saying Filipino youths should learn from it in the face of worsening poverty in the country today.
“The conditions of the Filipino and Tunisian youths are very similar: the prices of virtually everything are rising, there’s high unemployment, those with jobs have low wages, and those in the ‘informal sector’ such as vendors and pedicab drivers are subject to police harassment” he said.
Since the start of the year, expressway toll fees, taxi fares, and the prices of oil and vegetables have risen. There are pending increases in water rates, the price of milk, another toll increase in the SLEX and STAR expressways, and an up-to-100% fare hike in the MRT-LRT trains. The Aquino administration meanwhile has ruled out any wage increase in its first year in power.
“The youth of Tunisia also played a major part in the revolt, inspiring other sectors to take part in it. This should serve notice to last year’s striking students that they should go beyond their classrooms and link their struggles with that of workers, farmers, and urban poor” added Crisostomo, referring to last year’s November and December campus strikes where tens of thousands walked out of their classes against cuts in the education budget.
Tunisia’s uprising also inspired similar protests in the countries of Algeria, Jordan, and Egypt. In the Egyptian capital of Cairo, protesters chant “We are next, we are next, Ben Ali tell Mubarak he is next”, in reference to their own dictator.
“Noynoy, take heed. If you do not listen to the youth, you will be next” warned the Anakbayan leader.