Fake independence? Protesters claim everyone, including cops, not free
MANILA, Philippines — On the 121st anniversary celebration of the Philippines’ independence from Spain, protesters who tried to storm the gates of the United States Embassy have claimed that the country’s freedom is supposedly fake.
According to Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas who joined the rally, even police officers, who stood between the demonstrators and the road leading to the embassy, are not entirely free as they are forced to follow orders from ranking officials.
“Wala pong humaharap sa atin, kaya ibig sabihin po, kahit ang mga heneral, at ang mga command officers nilang lahat ay wala ring kalayaan. Kasi ibig sabihin sumusunod sila at tuta sila sa kung sino ang nagsasabi sa kanila na hindi tayo paraanin,” Brosas told rallyists in Manila.
Protesters marched at around 9:30 a.m. along T.M. Kalaw Avenue, Manila but were immediately stopped by members of the civil disturbance units from the Manila Police District. They were gradually allowed to move forward, until they reached a portion of the Roxas Boulevard.
Brosas and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago noted that their experience too — of not being able to go to places on Philippine soil — is a proof that freedom does not exist.
“Sa kabila ng pagkakaroon natin ng araw ng pagkilala sa ating kasarinlan, ngayon nakakaranas pa rin tayo (na ‘yong) mga taong nasa kapangyarihan sumusunod sa dikta ng mga mas malalaking ekonomiya. Hangga’t hindi tayo nakakalaya doon sa subservience, walang tunay na kalayaan sa Pilipinas.” Elago claimed.
“Alam po natin na huwad ang kalayaan na meron tayo, dahil pagpunta pa lang natin dito, dalawang harang na ng pulis ‘yong ating hinarap. Dapat po sa bansa natin, malaya tayong makakapasok, makakalabas, makakapunta saan man na gusto natin at masabi ang mga gusto nating masabi,” Brosas explained.
Origin of protests
Philippine independence was declared by former President Emilio Aguinaldo on June 12, 1898, in Kawit, Cavite. However, just years after, the country was placed under the hands of another colonizer in the United States after Spain sold the archipelago for $20 million.
After being dragged into the Second World War, US ceded control of the Philippine government July 4, 1946. Still, many facets of US influence remained in the country, including several naval bases and air fields across the nation.
Aside from US, militant group members including Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares are also protesting the presence of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea, a region disputed by the Asian superpower and other Southeast Asian countries.
“Sa ngayon ay may mga Chinese militia na nakapalibot sa Pag-asa Island at may Chinese warship pa na malapit sa Panatag shoal na klarong parte ng teritoryo natin. Sinira ang mga taklobo natin at hinaharangan ang ating mga mangingisda sa ating karagatan?” Colmenares asked.
“Pano nating masasabing tayo ay malaya kung ganito ang ginagawa ng mga banyaga sa ating bansa at ni hindi makatindig ang Malacañang para sa atin?” he added.
These sentiments were echoed by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary-General Renato Reyes, who called on the administration to implement a “genuine” independent foreign policy.
“Para maging ganap na malaya ang ating bansa, kailangang wakasan ang dependence o pag-asa sa mga dayuhang kapangyarihan. Marapat na palakasin ang ating sariling ekonomiya at itaguyod ang isang independent foreign policy,” Reyes said in a message sent to reporters.
“Malaking pagkakamali ng gobyernong Duterte ang pag-aakala nito na magagamit nya ang US at China laban sa isa’t isa. Ang totoo, mas lalo iipitin ng US at China ang Pilipinas, kapwa sa usapin ng ekonomiya at militar. Nagiging masunurin ang ating gobyerno sa dalawang imperyalistang kapangyarihan,” Reyes added.
After President Rodrigo Duterte was elected into office, he vowed to restore ties with China after the relationship between Manila and Beijing were strained due to international disputes.
Duterte, however, clarified that he was pursuing an independent foreign policy, which means that the country would not side with anyone and would pursue ties with Russia, Japan, China, US, and other countries. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)
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