They were barricaded by the police and hit with water cannon but nothing stopped the protesters in opposing the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting on Nov. 18 and 19.
Thousands of protesters from different regions in the Philippines came to Manila not to welcome the head of economies but to slam APEC’s policies “that are oppressing and impoverishing majority of the world’s poor people.”
“Despite its much-hyped thrust for an inclusive economy, APEC 2015 was all about promoting the interests of the big global corporations at the expense of the rest of the world” said #PHFightAPEC spokesperson Teddy Casiño.
The #PHFightAPEC led protesters in a major protest on Nov. 19, the last day of the leaders’ meeting.
The groups almost reached the Philippine International Convention Center when they were barricaded by the police. The dispersal injured more than 10 protesters. The police have set up loud speakers to drown the protest program but protesters continued with their program.
‘Rehash of free trade globalization’ failed promises’
Casiño said “all this talk of economic integration leading to inclusive growth and a better world is a rehash of free trade globalization’s failed promises since the 1980s. “Not even APEC, with its impressive roster of 21 economic leaders, can hide the truth that the global capitalist system is deepening the divide between the wealthy few and the impoverish many.”
This year, APEC’s Boracay Action Plan aims to link up Small and Medium Entrepreneurs with the global value chains in order to make economic growth inclusive. However, Casiño said this would merely expand the practice of transnational corporations farming out their work to subcontractors employing lowly-paid, contractual and non-unionized workers.
“Helping the SMEs sounds noble but the SMEs actually end up further enriching the global corporations and preventing countries like the Philippines from developing their own integrated industries,” he added.
In fact, he said, the Philippines, more than 20 years of APEC’s trade and investment liberalization, economic deregulation and privatization policies has turned the country into a service economy that cannot feed itself nor provide enough jobs for its people.
“As a share of the economy, manufacturing at 22.6% is at its worst level in six decades while agriculture at 10% is at its lowest in history,” Casiño
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general, Renato Reyes, Jr. also said over the past two decades, APEC and imperialist globalization have only benefited the rich countries while further impoverishing developing countries like the Philippines.
“Neoliberal economic dictates have caused severe unemployment, migration, depressed wages, landlessness and land-grabbing as well as the degradation of the environment. Rightly called an ‘APEC fail’, the people demand a new economic framework that puts national interest and the people ahead of corporate profits,” said Reyes.
The protest was also joined by delegates of the International Lague of Peoples Struggles.
Malcolm Guy, ILPS secretary general said Apec is only peddling lies. “The world is a better place without Apec,” he said.
Palestinian freedom fighter Leila Khaled, who spoke during the program, said Palestinians and the Filipinos are fighting the same enemies – “the imperialists, Zionists, and capitalists.”
“We have the right to be here.” she said.
She said she was told to not go in front of the protest march when the police began to hit the protesters with water cannon. “It’s okay. It was just like taking a shower in this hot weather. “In Palestine, we meet bullets with our bare breasts and we are not afraid,” Khaled said.
Meanwhile, League of Filipino Students chairperson, Charisse Bañez said that the Filipino people have no illusion that APEC will serve the country’s needs for sustainable economic development.
“It is not a remedy, but a venom that kills local industries for the benefit of foreign big businesses. Despite the Aquino regime’s repression of rallies, we are determined to rally our call to junk APEC,” she said.
Here are photos taken during the Nov. 19 protest: