“As an international organization for peoples’ struggles, we stand with the indigenous peoples, the oppressed people, the workers who have a stake in supporting each other in the struggle.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – The Manilakbayan ng Mindanao has “linked arms” with global activists lead by the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS) and are bracing themselves for protests against the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Summit next week.
The Manilakbayan and ILPS representatives held a media briefing today, Nov. 15, inside the Kampuhan at the Baclaran Church compound in Parañaque City. The formation of anti-riot police outside the compound gates have dispersed as of today, but hundreds of police men remain posted around the area, along with the four buses positioned at the gates facing Roxas boulevard.
Global activists are in the country for the ILPS fifth assembly. They will be joining the massive anti-Apec protests on Nov. 18 and 19 in Manila, where progressive groups from the Cordillera, Northern and Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog will converge.
“It’s appalling that our own government is much more willing to listen to foreign investors in the Apec summit, acting like a pimp to sell the Filipino’s wealth, to sell our ancestral lands to foreign countries to invest in our country,” said Datu Jomorito Goaynon, spokesperson of Manilakbayan.
“We all know this means further poverty, destruction of the environment and incessant militarization in areas where resistance against development aggression flourish,” Goaynon said.
Lyn Meza, a member of the ILPS international coordinating committee, said the ILPS is united with the Manilakbayan in their calls to pull out military and paramilitary groups in the indigenous communities.
“We express solidarity in the struggle against militarization in Mindanao, and against big mining corporations in the Philippines… that destroy the land and livelihood of people, to mine coal, gold, just for the profit of big corporations and the one percent wealthy of the world,” Meza said.
She added that even in the US, the indigenous North American Indian communities are being displaced by coal mining in the Appalachian peaks.
“As an international organization for peoples’ struggles, we stand with the indigenous peoples, the oppressed people, the workers who have a stake in supporting each other in the struggle against imperialism, and local reaction,” Meza said.
Meza also reacted to last night’s police blockade that prevented three Manilakbayan vehicles from leaving the compound. “I see that as a violation of the rights of people to protect themselves and resist this oppression by governments all over the world,” she said. The Lumád only want to live in peace and give education to their children, she said.
In the morning of Nov. 14, police men led by Police Chief Supt. Nestor Quimsay of the Police Community Relations Group (PNP-PCRG) went to the Manilakbayan camp and appealed to the Lumád leaders to call off their planned protests against Apec.
The Lumád leaders rejected the appeal, and in the early evening, hundreds of anti-riot police came, along with the four buses, and blocked three vehicles of 100 Lumad who were headed to Manila. As of today, the 100 Lumad were already able to transfer to the Iglesia Filipina Independiente compound in Manila.
The anti-Apec protesters are gearing up for even more intensified security restrictions this week, in the wake of the terror attacks by suspected Islamic State (IS) members in Paris, France, which killed at least 129 people. The progressives decried the Paris attacks, but worried that it could be used to go after, not just suspected Islamic fundamentalists, but also against activists critical of governments.
Governments from around the world condemned the attacks, including US President Barack Obama. President Aquino said in a statement, “We stand with France now, in the firm belief that light must never dim in Paris.”
Goaynon said Aquino is trying to make himself look good by condoling with the victims of the Paris attacks, even as he ignores the calls to stop the killings and attacks that continue against Lumád communities in Mindanao.
“Pakitang tao lang (it’s a sham),” Goaynon said.
“He should address the killings in the country, which he had ignored. Even as we had travelled here to make our calls, he only answered us with harassment, just to show good will to foreign visitors,” Goaynon said.
For Meza, an American who heads the organization, Chelsea Unity against War, many superpowers pretend to be pro-peace, but practice the opposite.