PH leftist activists start weeklong ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests in Manila
MANILA, Philippines—Philippine leftist groups began “Occupy Wall Street” protests in Manila over the weekend, simultaneous with similar activities in Asian cities such as Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Mumbai.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or Bayan, held its “global day of action vs imperialist war and plunder” consisting of a brief picket at Plaza Ferguson across the United States Embassy in Manila on Saturday.
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said protests would continue this week with farmers leading one in Manila on October 21 (Friday).
On Saturday about 20 protesters chanted anti-US, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist slogans, and then listened to Reyes during the program that paid tribute to the late New Peoples’ Army spokesman Gregorio Rosal alias Ka Roger.
“He (Ka Roger) is the voice of the ordinary citizen who is oppressed,” Reyes said while the protesters offered a moment of silence while fireworks exploded nearby.
The protesters carried placards saying, “PH is not for sale!” One said, “Genuine people’s democracy lives on the streets.” Others contained statistics on the state of the Philippine economy, such as “49 million Filipinos are poor,” “36 million Filipinos cannot afford food,” “15 million Filipinos experience hunger,” and “11 million Filipinos are jobless.”
Other Bayan protesters, including those from the group’s youth arm, Anakbayan, gathered in front of the Philippine Stock Exchange on Ayala Avenue in Makati City where they assailed “foreign economic plunder” by big US companies and financial institutions. They then proceeded to the offices of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines.
“We stand in solidarity with the people of the US in their fight against an unjust economic system that benefits and protects the one percent while exploiting and disregarding the other 99 percent. We join in their call ‘People over profits.’ The crisis that they are facing and the economic woes we are experiencing here are interrelated. These are brought about by a system dominated by big monopoly banks and corporations that control our entire economy,” Reyes said.
Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chairman, said the Occupy Wall Street movement would be the “clearest symbol yet of the failure of globalization and capitalism to provide a decent existence to billions of people all over the world.”
“Capitalism is bound to fail because it is a system where a minority gets rich off the labor of the majority because the former owns the tools and machines used by the latter. However, due to the elites’ very monopoly of the wealth produced by the capitalist system, the latter is unable to purchase the very goods it produces,” he said.
“To save their system from collapse, capitalist governments have taken over many countries, either as colonies or semi-colonies, for their raw materials, cheap labor, and to create new markets for their surplus goods. It has even reached the point where war is now good business because it consumes products, or where billions of ‘fictitious’ dollars are created in the stock markets for capitalists’ profits. Yet even these measures have failed to save capitalism from itself and the U.S from its worst economic crisis in history,” Crisostomo added.
Reyes said that Filipinos were “very much concerned: about moves to lift restrictions on foreign ownership of land, utilities, media and tertiary educational institutions by the amending the 1987 Constitution.
“The move to change the Charter is a step towards the bargain sale of Philippine patrimony and total surrender of economic sovereignty. The move favors the big banks and transnational corporations and puts Filipinos at a gross disadvantage,” he said.
Reyes said the US public has been against the big banks and corporations “because they have plunged their country into crisis and debt.”
“It is time for our own Philippine policymakers to take a critical look at this system. We cannot continue relying on the so-called benevolence of the foreign investors that foster sweatshops, destructive mining activities, high rates and massive indebtedness,” he said.
Added Crisostomo: “The protests rocking the very heart of capitalism have removed any justifications to remain apathetic and accept the social status quo. There is no excuse for us Filipinos to remain silent any longer. And there has never been a better opportunity for the youth and oppressed masses of the world to overthrow US imperialist control and to establish a truly just and humane society in the ashes of the old.”
Meanwhile, other leftist groups are focusing their Occupy Wall Street activities on labor issues and joblessness. They have adopted the cause of the Philippine Airlines’ beleaguered unionists as their “crusade” against capitalist greed.
The Freedom from Debt Coalition, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Sanlakas, Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Transportasyon and Alliance of Progressive Labor will hold on Monday a “Justice Run for PAL workers” from the Supreme Court to Chino Roces bridge near Malacañang, followed by a caravan to the Our Lady of Airways church in Pasay City.
Activist-priest Robert Reyes will celebrate Mass for members of the Flight Attendants and Stewards Association of the Philippines and the PAL Employees Association (Palea), who are facing labor-related problems.
Palea on Saturday declared its protest camp near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as its contribution to the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
“Palea members and supporters have occupied this part of the airport area since October 28 and today we proclaim it to be part of Occupy Wall Street movement. Similar to Occupy Wall Street which has fought eviction by the New York city government and police, we will not surrender this occupation despite continuing threats of demolition,” Gerry Rivera, Palea president, said.
Echoing Occupy Wall Street’s call, Rivera asked, “The workers and the poor are the 99 percent of Filipinos but why is President Aquino acceding to the greed of (PAL owner) Lucio Tan who is just part of the 1 percent?”
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