“In its callous determination to convince foreign dignitaries and the media that the Philippines is now supposedly an economically developed country, the Aquino administration is resorting to wantonly abusing the rights of our people. It is the height of hypocrisy.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – As presidential planes of visiting heads of state landed one after another at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), flights were canceled and major streets and thoroughfares in the capital became virtual parking lots as vehicles and security of APEC delegates pass through.
Bayan Muna partylist Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate also denounced the “clearing operations” of Metro Manila streets and “virtual detention of poor residents” in preparation for the Apec summit, caling it criminalization of poverty and grave abuse of the poor and homeless.
Since November 9, authorities have “rounded up” several hundred adults and children from the streets and informal settlements in Manila and surrounding municipalities of Metro Manila, and detained them without charges.
“Many of the adults operate food carts or sell scavenged items and were told by officials who detained them that they would be able to return to the streets and resume their work after the summit,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported.
“In its callous determination to convince foreign dignitaries and the media that the Philippines is now supposedly an economically developed country, the Aquino administration is resorting to wantonly abusing the rights of our people. It is the height of hypocrisy,” Rep. Zarate said. He called the Aquino government “shameless.”
Fellow Bayan Muna partylist solon and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Neri Colmenares said the Philippines might benefit from letting world leaders see the true situation of the country.
“This is the result of neoliberal policies that we have suffered under APEC. These economic leaders should see what they have done to our economy and people through the years of privatization, liberalization, deregulation, and denationalization of industries and social services,” Rep. Colmenares added.
Activists undeterred by no-fly, no-sail zones, street lockdowns
Almost the whole portion of Manila Bay is a no-sail zone starting today (November 18). Streets from airport terminal to hotels and convention centers where visiting heads of state and their barrage of assistants and securities will pass by are also closed to traffic.
It’s “Absolute madness to try and host an APEC meeting in Manila. Filipinos should be able to sit and choke in the fumes of their gridlocked Manila traffic in peace – without being disrupted by World Leaders and others attending APEC for a couple of days. What on earth were they thinking?” an FB user named Greg Powell posted in his account.
Another, a John Paul Suba, posted a video taken at Pasay Rotonda, around 9 p.m. November 17, documenting the heavy traffic of ordinary commuters on one side and the spacious moving traffic in the side allotted for APEC participants. He said:
“APECtado ang lahat. Galit na yung mga driver. Kantyaw at busina ang inabot ng APEC convoy sa mga motorista.” (Everyone is APECted. Drivers are furious. APEC convoys received jeers and honks from the motorists.)
“It is similar to martial law. Police and military have cordoned off many areas in Manila, to the detriment of commuters and residents,” Rep. Zarate said.
His fellow Bayan Muna Rep. and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares said he will make sure the protests actions outside this APEC high-level meeting will be heard.
“In the hallowed, bedecked halls where they would talk about further plundering our nation, they should have a mental picture imprinted in their heads of the poverty and exploitation that the people suffer for decades under neoliberal policies,” Rep. Colmenares said.
Despite roadblocks, barricades, no-sail zones, clearing ops, and thousands of deployed police and military, plus the security brought in by visiting heads of state themselves, protesters from various regions in the Philippines have been streaming into the capital since weeks ago. Global activists and migrants who started arriving a week ago for conferences about alternatives for the people (or the 99 percent who produced the world’s wealth) are also reportedly set to defy threats against joining the APEC protests.