“The policy of globalization opens up our economy to trade and investment of big, foreign business, to be run as business and to benefit only the few, while majority are impoverished.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Even as the Aquino government makes frantic security measures – from bringing in thousands of police men from the provinces, to closing off roads and shutting internet signal – all to impress the 21 heads of states coming to the leaders’ summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) this month, progressive groups, on the other hand, are gearing up for protests that are equally impressive and will defy such “repressive” measures.
Thousands of activists, from the north to the south of the country, and even from other countries, will stream in, as all roads will lead to Manila for protests against the Apec summit, to be led by the #PHFightAPEC, the People’s Campaign against Apec and Imperialist Globalization.
“For the first time, after a long time, groups from Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and from as far as Mindanao will converge here in Manila, on Nov. 18 to 19. This is a massive mobilization because we want to show the Aquino regime and the whole world what the real situation is, and what kind of change we want,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
The national government had already announced the cancellation of classes and work in certain government offices from Nov. 17 to 20, cancellation of flights on Nov. 18 and 19, closing off of certain roads near the Apec summit venue in Pasay City, and is even mulling shutting down internet signal and jamming telecommunication signals around the summit venue.
Even the 700-strong Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, which is already encamped at the Liwasang Bonifacio here, is threatened to be forced out, as the Manila Police District (MPD) overturned the permit given by Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada, who earlier allowed the Kampuhan until Nov. 22.
“There are two kinds of gatherings that will happen in the coming two weeks: one is a gathering of imperialists and their puppets like the Aquino government, and that is the Apec summit. On the other side are gathering and activities of people who are against globalization, against imperialist plunder and war, and wish to put up a just and democratic system of society,” said Teddy Casiño, #PHFightAPEC spokesperson, at the press conference today, Nov, 6 at the Manilakbayan Kampuhang Bayan (people’s camp) in Liwasang Bonifacio.
Casiño said at least five international conferences of anti-globalization activists will be held from Nov. 9 to 20: the 5th International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) on Nov. 14 to 16, the Peasant Anti-imperialist Solidarity Conference on Nov. 13, the Global Assembly of the International Migrants Alliance on Nov. 12 to 13, the general assembly of the International Women’s Alliance on Nov. 11, and the International Festival for People’s Rights and Struggle on Nov 17.
The group also scored government’s efforts to “whitewash poverty and other social realities in the country,” such as removing side walk vendors, demolishing urban poor communities and hiding homeless street dwellers.
Casiño said they expect more human rights violations, even as the police said “maximum tolerance” will be implemented against rallyists. The venue of the summit in Pasay City had been declared a “no-rally zone.”
“Apec does not give Aquino the power to arbitrarily suppress freedom of expression and right to assembly,” Reyes said.
“From the security measures to the actual economic policies that Apec promotes, people will definitely be affected. The Philippine government is pandering to foreign leaders while failing to address the most basic economic issues such as jobs, wages, mass transport, land reform, industrialization,” Reyes said.
“Apec is not welcome here, specially (US President Barack) Obama, and even more so the president of China which is encroaching on our territories. Let us welcome them with protests,” said Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan Chairperson.
“Unsightly scene, infiltrated by threat groups”
Manila city Mayor Estrada amended his earlier permit, and cut off the Kampuhan’s stay only up to Nov. 12, after the MPD refused to give permit, on grounds reminiscent of North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco’s rantings about the Lumád evacuation center in Davao city.
In a letter dated Sept. 28 and addressed to Estrada, MPD District Director Police Chief Superintendent Roland Nana said that the camp “will not only disrupt the normal economic and social activity around the area, but also cause unsanitary environment that will surely impact to (sic) public safety and order.”
Nana further said that the camp “will cause an unsightly seen (sic) that would impact to (sic) tourism industry of the city.”
“The group may likely be infiltrated by threat groups, be manipulated and utilized against the upcoming Apec activities wihin the city of Manila and the nearby cities, which would be a serious security concern,” Nana’s letter said.
In reaction, Michelle Campos, daughter of slain Manobo leader Dionel Campos, said at the press conference: “We are being driven out of our ancestral lands, now even here at the Liwasang Bonifacio, we are also being evicted?”
“We know that the impending Apec summit is also #Benta pa more, which will result to more selling out of ancestral lands of the Lumád, and will result to more dislocation, along with militarization, and more killings of the Lumád who resist large-scale mining,” said Campos.
“Government said we should put on our best face for the visitors, but what kind of visitors take advantage of us, grab our lands and plunder our resources? These are not visitors, these are thieves who are promoting the Apec, who plunder our economy and oppress the people,” said Reyes.
“The very policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatization pushed by Apec since the late 1980s have destroyed the manufacturing sector, kept agriculture stagnant, increased the cost of basic services and utilities and caused the massive outflow of the country’s natural resources and skilled labor, to the destriment of our own development,” Casiño said.
Former Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep.Liza Maza said with neoliberal globalization comes militarization, as the US also wants to militarize the Asia-Pacific region with its “Asian Pivot,” aimed to control economies.
Sonny Africa of Ibon said that for the past 26 years since Apec was established, it had pushed neoliberal policies, which opened up economies to foreign trade and investments. He said Apec was instrumental in the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994, which became the organizational expression of the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT).
“Globalization did nothing for the Asia-Pacific, it did nothing to help the Philippines,” Africa said.
He said 60 percent of the world’s poorest are in Asia, with 1.8 billion poor population, in spite of having 60 percent of the workforce in the world.
In the Philippines, Africa said, there is now an unprecedented number of jobless, with 12 million unemployed or underemployed. He said 66 million of the 100 million Filipinos make do with only P120 ($2.50) a day.
“Prices of commodities, electricity and water continue to rise, because these had been passed on to the hands of businessmen, of foreigners… The policy of globalization opens up our economy to trade and investment of big, foreign business, to be run as business and to benefit only the few, while majority are impoverished,” said Africa.
The displacement of indigenous peoples who are resisting large-scale destructive mining is also an effect of Apec, which pushes the liberalization of the mining sector. Africa cited the recent mining conference in Cebu in August where companies talked about not just the opening up of the mining sector to foreign investment, but how to building Public-Private Partnerships in mining.