“APEC is only shaping a so-called ‘better’ world for the 1% of the richest and most powerful corporations and individuals.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – They are also visitors and friends of this country, but they apparently did not qualify for the red carpet being rolled out by the Philippine government to participants of the upcoming APEC summit — they were told off instead. They are being asked to stay put in Quezon City, and not to bring their protest actions to Manila where the leaders in APEC Summit are set to gather.
They are the 350 activists from 36 countries who have also been arriving in the Philippine capital this week. In a press conference in Quezon City this Friday, November 13, Canadian film and television director Malcolm Guy told reporters that indeed, they want to be here at this time “to present another point of view.” Among others, he said, it’s another point of view on the world economy, on the indigenous question — the opinion of the great majority of the people.
“APEC claims that it is building a better world and inclusive economies. APEC, in fact, is peddling a lie,” Guy said.
He added: “APEC is only shaping a so-called ‘better’ world for the 1% of the richest and most powerful corporations and individuals. While the 99%, the rest of us, far from being better off, face environment degradation, rampant militarization, climate change catastrophes like Yolanda (Haiyan) here in the Philippines, and precarious working conditions with falling wages.”
Leila Khaled, member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), warned that those leaders meeting in APEC are going to say more lies. “If you hear them, put more brackets, this is their big plan.”
Former Gabriela Women Partylist Representative Liza Maza, Philippine coordinator to the ILPS, said that while APEC continues to promise better economies for its members, developing nations like the Philippines have in fact suffered from its trade policies. When its top economic leaders meet, “their agenda is for the rich and not for the poor.”
In barring the activists from protesting near the APEC venue, “The Philippine government does not want the world to see that they are all about lies,” Maza said.
Summit of the 1% — APEC as an elite meeting to rip the 99% off
Guy is secretary-general of International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), and like his fellow leaders of ILPS, he said at Friday’s press conference “the world would be better off without APEC.”
He described the APEC Summit as an occasion when the world’s elite meet to further rip us off. “You’ll be lucky to be invited or allowed to go there,” he said, referring to the venues of the APEC Summit. There are lots of riches there, whereas the global activists work in more modest settings, he added.
Asked why activists time their meetings with summits like APEC, Guy said activists regard the occasion as a reason to get together, since a lot of other activists are surely coming in to protest the lies to be brandished in APEC.
Len Cooper, ILPS Vice Chairman, said, “Here they’re discussing matters that will affect not the just Philippines but other people. We have the right to demonstrate. It’s not for the Philippine government to shut us down.”
To threats against the ILPS delegates speaking out against the Philippine government or other APEC countries – in the past, foreign activists have been detained at the airport – Guy expressed hope the Philippine president will respect their democratic rights.
“We set our sights high but we’re also realistic, we hope the Philippine president will respect that.”
They are set to start the next day the assembly of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS). They expect to discuss with delegates from 91 countries.
Guy emphasized the importance of the people taking necessary measures. Much of it is in presenting the alternatives and working for change.
“Each country will have their specific demands depending on their circumstances,” said Cooper. But basically, the change they mean involves “full democracy,” or one where not just the 1% benefits from the riches of the world.
In Australia, for example, Cooper said its wealth as produced by the 99% should benefit and improve lives of ordinary people rather than the few.
The leaders of ILPS said they have things to say to Canadian, American governments, and all their delegates’ governments — that it is important to be heard.
“It’s important were not quieted down,” said Guy. From his statement, threats such as those implied by the Aquino government against the delegates of ILPS are not the first they have dealt with. Soundbombs, tear gas, threats had not stopped them from striving to present the alternative to “lies” of the 1%, and from doing protest actions.
To “appeals” aired by the Philippine government that they stay put in Quezon City and not hold protests in Manila, “I really hope the Philippine government will not do that, it’s important to have full democratic debate about these things,” Guy said.