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Youth protesters defend education, SMEs vs ‘Apec commercialization’

/ 04:31 PM November 19, 2015
Anti-Apec protesters converging on Buendia Avenue corner Roxas Boulevard are blocked by police forces on Thursday. YUJI GONZALES

Anti-Apec protesters marching on Buendia Avenue corner Roxas Boulevard are blocked by police forces on Thursday. YUJI GONZALES

Before peacefully dispersing from the intersection of Buendia Avenue and Roxas Boulevard, militant groups protesting against the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit burned an effigy of a vulture.

The effigy, they said, was symbolic of the supposedly predatory character of the international economic forum, which “picks the flesh off the developing countries.”

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For Anakbayan member Al Laria, “pro-rich” Apec policies heavily damage labor and employment in impoverished nations.

“Pano nila masasabing maraming magkakaroon ng trabaho? Apec ba ang solusyon? Hindi po. Ang dami pong mamamayan na magiging apektado nito. Malalaking bansa lang po ang makikinabang sapagkat ‘yung mga produktong galing lang po sa kanila at ‘yung mga maliliit na negosyante ay natatabunan kaya dapat tayong lumaban para isang demokratikong kalayaan ng mamamayan,” Laria told INQUIRER.net.

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Anakbayan national chair Vencer Crisostomo said the Apec did not support small and medium local enterprises as its liberalization policies allowed richer countries to “dump their products” to the Philippines, which he said had led to the bankruptcy and closure of small business and “soaring” unemployment rates.

“Don’t be fooled by flowery slogans of inclusive growth and building a better world. Apec’s development model has only resulted in worsening poverty and inequality for poor countries like the Philippines,” Crisostomo said.

“Hindi lang tayo sa traffic APECtado. Apec promotes low wages and contractualization for workers to make the country attractive to foreign investors. Price hikes on basic commodities, electricity, water, and privatized education and health services. Ito ang tunay na mukha ng Apec,” he added.

Citing the K to 12 law, Kabataan party-list nominee Romina Astudillo said Apec promoted the commercialization of education which she said would lead to the production of “semi-skilled” and “docile” workers.

“Kabataan is against Apec because it will bring another neo-liberal offensive education. One agenda of the Apec 2015 summit is investing on human capital, which in turn, its effect on the youth will be worsening labor crisis, mainly the K to 12 program. Magpo-produce ito ng maraming semi-skilled, cheap-labor and docile workers among the youth, which means dadami yung mawawalan ng access sa tertiary education,” Astudillo told INQUIRER.net.

‘Peaceful assembly’

Anakbayan and Kabataan are just two of the many militant groups that converged in Manila on Wednesday in an attempt to penetrate Roxas Boulevard, where Apec meetings are being held. Police forces, however, blocked them with the use of shields, wooden sticks, and water cannons.

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While most protesters criticized the police as “tuta ng dayuhan” for preventing them from marching, Astudillo said she somehow understood that they were just obliged to do their jobs.

But she noted that the right to peaceful assembly was part of their battle cry.

“’Yung isang classic na tanong na natin diyan sympre, tayo bilang mga kabataan, tagapagmana ng rebolusyon ni Heneral Luna, ang tanong natin lagi, bayan o sarili. Sa ganitong sitwasyon, bagaman nasa magkaibang panig ang kapulisan at ang mamamayang Pilipino, naniniwala tayo na ang kapulisan naoobliga lamang na gawin ang kanilang trabaho dahil ito ang kanilang trabaho,” Astudillo said.

“Pero kabilang pa rin ang mga kapulisang ito sa pinaglalaban natin. Dineploy ang humigit kumulang 3,000 mga pulis sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa para lang protektahan ang interes ng mga dayuhang korporasyon, mga dayuhanf kapitalista lalo na yung mga imperialistang tagapamuno ng mga bansa katulad ni Barack Obama ng Estados Unidos, ni Xi Jinping ng China, at napakarami pang ibang presidente,” she added.

The protesters were peacefully dispersed by police at around 2 p.m. RC

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TAGS: Anakbayan, APEC 2015, Kabataan, Protests
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