Filipino activists heed global call
Several dozen leftists began a protest against hunger and joblessness on Saturday in what they described as a “global day of action against imperialist war and plunder.”
Members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), expressing sympathy with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, briefly massed at Plaza Ferguson across from the US Embassy in Manila.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. began the program by paying tribute to the late Communist Party of the Philippines’ spokesperson Gregorio Rosal, alias Ka Roger.
“He is the voice of the ordinary citizen who is oppressed,” Reyes said. The protesters offered a moment of silence then exploded fireworks.
Placards were held aloft, saying, “PH is not for sale!” and “Genuine people’s democracy lives in the streets.”
Other placards contained statistics on the state of the Philippine economy, such as “49 million Filipinos are poor,” “36 million Filipinos could not afford food,” “15 million Filipinos experience hunger,” and “11 million Filipinos are jobless.”
Reyes said protests would continue this week with farmers leading one in Manila on Oct. 21.
People over profits
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.
“We stand in solidarity with the people of the US in their fight against an unjust economic system that benefits and protects the 1 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.
Reyes said that Filipinos were “very much concerned” about moves to amend the 1987 Constitution to lift restrictions on foreign ownership of land, utilities, media and tertiary educational institutions.
“The move to change the Charter is a step toward 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 was against the big banks and corporations “because they have plunged their country into crisis and debt.”
“It is time for our own Philippine policy makers 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.
Failure of globalization
Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chair, said the Occupy Wall Street movement was the “clearest symbol yet of the failure of globalization and capitalism to provide a decent existence to billions of people all over the world.”
The Freedom from Debt Coalition, Partido ng Manggagawa, Sanlakas, Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Transportasyon and Alliance of Progressive Labor will hold today 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.
The group has taken up the cause of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association after a fresh rebuff from the Supreme Court in its 13-year legal fight for reinstatement of 1,400 sacked members.
President Aquino’s deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said the group should first get a permit from Manila City Hall. “While we respect their right to peaceful assembly, we will observe time and place regulations,” she said. With a report from Christine O. Avendaño
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