By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – All throughout world history, people have asserted their rights and defended their communities through a popular, democratic form: the barricade, or barikada in Filipino. People show unity and collective strength, as they link arms, stop traffic and make the powers-that-be respond to their demands. It also puts them at risk to actions of the brutal state machinery, as shown by the Kidapawan shooting on April 1.
People bring matter-of-life-and-death issues at the barricade, and it is the justness of their cause which brings them out there in the streets: the defense of their homes against demolition, calling for stop to destructive mining, demanding the pullout of soldiers from communities, or the release of long held-up drought relief.
In the Philippines, probably the most prominent barikada were at EDSA in 1986, and later in 2001, where unarmed citizens stood up to oust oppressive and corrupt regimes. In spite of Marcos’s fascist record and Estrada’s disregard for human rights, both did not give any order to shoot at the gathering crowd calling for their respective ouster.
Unlike in the two EDSAs, most barricades in the country are met with the full force of the state. Instead of coming out to a dialogue, government officials send in police, firemen and gun-toting soldiers to disperse the barricade. Scorned and threatened, protesters naturally fight back. They throw whatever they can get their hands on: placards, flag poles, rocks, at times, even hurling back tear gas canisters thrown at them by anti-riot police.
State officials still use the Marcosian decree Batas Pambansa 880 and its “no permit, no rally” dictum, using the flow of traffic as an excuse to ignore legitimate demands. But there would be no need for protests and barricades under a government that genuinely responds to the needs of the people.
Bulatlat lists some of the recent barricades reported by alternative media under the Aquino administration. Some led to successful negotiations, but many ended up with the protesters harassed and charged with trumped-up cases, or worse, killed.
Still, their grievances would have only been ignored had the people not stood their ground and resorted to bold measures. Under a negligent government, legitimate demands will continue to bring people out of their homes and into the danger zone that is the barricade.
Appeal for aid and relief
In June 2015, Lumád and peasants protested at the Kitaotao municipal hall and formed a blockade, as they demanded the release of P8 million-worth ($2 million) of calamity goods which had been held up by government. Municipal officials acceded to release 1,000 sacks of rice, with a pledge to release 2,000 sacks more, plus fertilizers and seeds. After two months, soldiers swooped down on White Culaman village and arrested Lumád leaders.
In 2013, thousands of survivors of Typhoon Pablo (Bhopa) barricaded the road to protest government’s withholding of relief aid. After being continuously given excuses by government, outraged typhoon victims stormed into the DSWD compound and carted out sacks of rice.
5,000 angry Pablo victims barricaded Comval national highway (Davao Today)
Pablo victims warn of bigger, bolder protests against DSWD, Aquino govt (Davao Today)
Angry Pablo victims storm DSWD, seize relief goods (Davao Today)
Two weeks before the barricade by North Cotabato farmers demanding rice subsidy, Lumád and peasant protesters from Southern Mindanao held up traffic in downtown Davao City, as they called for the withdrawal of soldiers in their communities. Many of the protesters were evacuees from Davao del Norte and Bukidnon who have sought sanctuary in the city. The protesters lifted the barricade after seven hours.
People’s barricade in Davao City demands pull-out of state troops (Kilab Multimedia)
“We would rather die fighting than die helplessly in another mining disaster,” said barricading villagers of Bayto in Sta. Cruz, Zambales province, as they barred mining trucks from passing through communities. The people blames last year’s deadly deluge to the decade-long open-pit mining operations, and have put up the barricade against mining trucks in their call to stop mining in the area. The barricades in Sta. Cruz and Candelaria towns have since been violently dispersed by police, soldiers and paramilitary men.
Residents of Compostela town protested the entry of the Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corporation (Agpet) which has gained two exploration permits for mining exploration.
Farmers put up barricade vs mining firm (Davao Today)
In the Cordillera region, the barricade of indigenous peoples have succeeded to halt the expansion of a mining company
Mankayan barricade vs Goldfield drill continues (Northern Dispatch)
Christmas at the Madaymen barricades (Northern Dispatch)
In defense of homes vs demolition
Urban poor block looming demolition in Navotas City (Manila Today)
Caloocan demolition leaves 300 families homeless (Bulatlat)
Community thwarts demolition, secures talks on relocation (Manila Today)
One dead, 33 arrested in violent demolition in Parañaque (Bulatlat)
14-year-old shot and killed in demolition in Tarlac City (Bulatlat)
Barikada in recent history
The Hacienda Luisita massacre: how it happened (Bulatlat)
Mendiola massacre: issues not resolved after 25 years (Satur C. Ocampo, reposted by Bulatlat)
The barricades in the Cordillera region against development aggression, the biggest of which was the Chico river dam project during Martial Law.
CPA challenges youth to know people power (Northern Dispatch)
Telling stories to carry on the struggles in Cordillera (Bulatlat)