“APEC is making the lives of Filipinos more difficult, and that’s just a preview of the greater difficulties that it will bring in the coming years.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Despite the presence of soldiers with long firearms, and policemen from various provinces who were trucked into the capital to fill up the Aquino government’s APEC “quota” of some 9,200 police, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno joined by youth group Anakbayan held a lightning rally at the corner of Taft and Buendia avenues in Pasay City this morning.
They condemned the APEC Summit which was formally opened today at the nearby Philippine International Convention Center.
“APEC’s push for further liberalization of trade and investments, deregulation of prices and privatization of social services has kept wages low, prices high and the people in poverty. It has killed what is left of our manufacturing, agriculture and has cursed our economy to backwardness and bankruptcy,” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.
“APEC deserves condemnation and protests because of its thrust of increasing the profits of big foreign capitalists and advancing the interests of powerful countries at the expense of the workers, peasants and other poor people of the Philippines and other underdeveloped countries,” the KMU said in a separate statement.
Although APEC Summit was formally opened in PICC in Manila, the highlights of the day were “summit dialogues” and “conversations” held in Makati Shangri-La hotel, which occasioned the closing of some streets in Makati aside from the streets leading to the PICC.
KMU said the immediate difficulties caused by the government’s hosting of the summit to ordinary Filipinos reflect APEC’s bias in favor of big capitalists and governments of powerful countries.
“APEC is making the lives of Filipinos more difficult, and that’s just a preview of the greater difficulties that it will bring in the coming years,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson.
He cited the Filipinos’ “current status as second-class citizens to APEC delegates” as a concrete warning that they are increasingly being transformed into cheap and repressed laborers. As proof of Filipinos’ “second-class status” compared to APEC delegates, Soluta cited the “no work, no pay” scheme imposed on workers, the eviction of vendors and beggars from areas near the PICC, the huge traffic jams caused by the full and partial closure of major roads, the imposition of rules violating workers’ and Filipinos’ right to freedom of expression, among others,.
“There’s no ‘inclusive growth’ or ‘better future’ with APEC. Its thrust, its composition, and the manner by which it is being hosted in the Philippines show just how it excludes workers and ordinary Filipinos. We are being given a foretaste of the mess it will plunge the country into,” Soluta warned.
He said their protests are not the source of embarrassment for Filipinos, but what the youth described as “slavish” and “imeldific” welcome of APEC delegates.