Police, lumad protesters clash at Baclaran church
Police forces and lumads or indigenous peoples of Mindanao protesting the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Manila clashed in front of Baclaran church on Thursday morning.
The lumad protesters intend to march to Liwasang Bonifacio to join other militant groups before proceeding to the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City where Apec meetings are being held, but the police would not let them pass.
Police forces were armed with shields and wooden sticks as they block the protesters from leaving the church compound. Tension started to rise when the protesters attempted to force their way out.
Army trainees and fire trucks are also on standby in the vicinity.
Noting that lumads are not security threats, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate told INQUIRER.net that the police response to protest actions against Apec cannot be justified.
“Pati ‘yung mga police trainees ginamit pa nila para harangin ang mga kapatid nating lumad na ang sadya lang naman ay magpahayag ng hinaing lalo na sa usapin ng Apec,” Zarate said in an interview. “Overkill itong ginagawa ng Aquino administration na padalhan kami ng napakaraming pulis, may mga militar pa, may mga bumbero.”
(Even police trainees were used to block our lumad brethren who only wanted to express their grievances particularly in the issue of the Apec. What the Aquino administration is doing is overkill, sending our way scores of policemen, military, and firefighters.)
The militant lawmaker said the Apec condones exploitation of land and natural resources and militarization in Mindanao through its policies that favor big mining corporations.
“Ang agenda ay sagad-sagarin ang malawakang pagmimina sa Mindanao. Ang problema naman talaga naming taga-Mindanao ay ang pagpasok ng malalaking korporasyon ng pagmina, at ito ang dahilan ng militarisasyon at pagpatay sa mga kapatid nating lumad,” Zarate said.
(The agenda is the exploitative mining in Mindanao. Our real problem in Mindanao is the entry of large mining corporations and this is the reason behind militarization and the killing of our lumad brethren.)
“Hindi nila kayang itago na dalawang dekada pagkatapos ng first hosting natin ng Apec, laganap pa rin ang kahirapan sa Pilipinas at lalong lumala ang ekonomiya,” he added.
(They cannot conceal the fact that two decades after we first hosted the Apec, poverty still persists in the Philippines and the economy continues to decline.)
Highlighting the right to peaceful assembly, Zarate said the group has been negotiating with police officers on the ground so they can move forward.
“Sabi namin gusto naming magkaroon ng peaceful rally outside. Sabi nila, nilalaro-laro kami, hinihingan ng permit, etc. Pero ito lang, kahit ano pang gawing security measures na ito, this will not prevent the people from expressing yung mga hinaing, reklamo, at demands nila from the government,” he said.
(We said we wanted to hold a peaceful rally outside. They were toying with us, asking us for a permit, etc. Just this, though, whatever security measures they implement will not prevent the people from expressing their grievances and demands from the government.)
“Wala naman kaming masamang sadya dito at hindi kami kailangang bayolenteng harapin ng mga ahente ng gobyerno,” Zarate added.
(We have no ill intentions and we need not approach government agents in a violent manner.)
The lumads, who have been camping out in Manila since late October, previously stayed in Liwasang Bonifacio but were forced to transfer to Baclaran church upon orders from the local government.
Militant groups in Liwasang Bonifacio, which held a vigil protest at the freedom park on Wednesday evening, are eyeing to march to PICC amid strong police presence. CDG
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