“By perpetrating these forms of violence and violations of our civil liberties, Mr. Aquino is actually showcasing to the foreign media and the world the complete opposite of what he said at the summit.”
MANILA — Activists from the Southern Tagalog region slammed the Aquino administration for its “violent and merciless response” to the weeklong protests by the different groups against the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Meeting.
Diego Torres, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Southern Tagalog (Bayan-ST) spokesperson, said scores were injured in “unprovoked and deliberate attacks” on their ranks in the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 19, when their protest was violently dispersed at the Ayala Bridge, along Quirino and Mabini Streets, in Manila, near the Apec venue at the Philippine International Convention Center along Roxas Boulevard.
The groups arrived in the capital since Nov. 15 and held a series protests in different government agencies to express their dissent against Apec. Their protests were blocked by the police.
“We strongly condemn these deliberate attacks by the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines dispersal units on helpless civilians and ordinary citizens, upon orders of no less than Aquino himself to contain and to hide to foreign leaders the rage and condemnation of the Filipino people against the Apec,” said Torres.
Their group was supposed to join the people’s march and global action to protest the Apec summit on Nov. 19, but police units blocked their way after passing through Ayala Bridge. Torres said several of their members were hurt and injured, including a woman who was hit at the stomach and held by the throat by a member of the dispersal unit. Police also hit some protesters with shields and truncheons as they asserted their way near the Apec meeting venue.
Torres said that around 3:00 p.m. on Nov. 19, their group went on a caravan towards Quirino Avenue, but were blocked by police in full dispersal gears, accompanied by fire trucks. Organizers asked the police that they will just hold a short program, but the joint police and soldier team violently pushed the group towards Adriatico Street.
“By perpetrating these forms of violence and violations of our civil liberties, Mr. Aquino is actually showcasing to the foreign media and the world the complete opposite of what he has been talking about at the summit these past few days and all the more that the people will resist and expose his fascist regime,” he said.
Prior to the said incidents, Torres said their series of protests also faced attempted dispersals and blockade by the government.
Torres said similar to the 1996 Apec Summit, people continued to suffer the effects of trade liberalization, privatization and deregulation of basic and social services.
He said they cannot allow “arbitrary, unfair and anti-poor policies” to further control and influence the socio-economic and educational policies. “That is why we have traveled from our far communities to reach Manila and show our resistance against this destructive ploy of imperialist countries,” Torres said.
“(Aquino) is doing all these to please his imperialist masters and hide from their sight the prevailing poverty, unemployment, environmental plunder and landlessness across the country,” Torres added.
Unfazed by the dispersals and barricades, the groups are determined to fight.
“Our struggle in the factories and farms will continue as long as these policies continue to sow abuses and suffering the expense of ordinary Filipinos who will ultimately bear the brunt of cheap labor, contractualization, privatization and deregulation, while feeding the profits of imperialist countries and business interests,” Torres said.