Activists stage protest in Divisoria

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MANILA, Philippines—About a hundred leftwing activists staged a protest at the Bonifacio Monument in Divisoria, Manila as the country celebrated its 115th year of independence Wednesday.

The protesters, led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), lambasted the government’s “sham independence and economic growth” saying that common Filipinos do not really reap the benefits of development.

Arnold Padilla, Bayan public information officer, told INQUIRER.net that for one, the presence of foreign bodies particularly that of the United States, is still strongly felt in the country through the Visiting Forces Agreement.

And on the economic side, he said the government has claimed a 7.8 growth in the country’s Gross Domestic Product, but the unemployment rate continues to rise, as well as prices of basic commodities and services.

Also part of the program was a symbolic boodle fight, just that the food served was only rice and pieces of junk foods as their viand.

Padilla said the activity symbolized the inability of common Filipinos to buy food because of the rising prices of commodities.

PROTEST PORTRAITS Members of activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) painted portraits of (from left) labor leader Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, former spokesman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, female leader Lorena Barros, national hero Andres Bonifacio, and revolutionary general Antonio Luna during a protest rally at the Bonifacio Monument in Divisoria. MATIKAS SANTOS/INQUIRER.net

“That’s all Filipinos can afford now to eat–chichirya [junk foods] [and] instant noodles because of the continuing rise of prices of commodities and services while many people have no decent job,” he said.

Padilla said the government should impose changes in the country’s economic policies.

Several members also painted images of personalities who were known to have fought for change. Among the personalities painted on white canvass were revolutionist Andres Bonifacio, labor leader Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, female leader Lorena Barros, and Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, the former spokesman of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“Our economy is still controlled by and in the service of foreign big business and their local partners. Economic activity is geared towards meeting international demands rather than meeting domestic requirements for genuine development,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr., for his part, said.

“Job creation is dictated by external factors. Our country cannot be truly free when its people are under the bondage of poverty and underdevelopment arising from foreign dictates,” Reyes said.

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