Davao Activists to Join 20,000 Others in Cebu for Anti-Asean Protests

Dec. 08, 2006

Activists from Bayan, Bayan Muna and other left-wing groups in the city will meet up with fellow activists in Cebu to denounce the 12th Asean Summit because, according to them, it benefits only the imperialist countries like the US. Davao Todays Cheryll D. Fiel reports.

DAVAO CITY Members of Davaos progressive groups are organizing a caravan to join more than 20,000 activists in massive protests in Cebu in time for 12th Asean Summit scheduled to begin this weekend.

The groups, which are scheduled to arrive in Cebu on Dec. 10, Human Rights Day, promised to expose to the international community the Arroyo government’s culpability in the killings of political activists in the country, said Ariel Casilao, secretary general for Southern Mindanao of the left-wing Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.

The “Archipelago-Wide Caravan for Peace and Justice” will leave Davao for Cagayan de Oro on Dec. 9 to meet up with contingents before sailing for Cebu, where they will join activists from all over the country and other parts of the world. The activists are scheduled to hold their own an alternative people’s summit.

The peoples summit, to be held simultaneous with the Asean summit, will expose the economic ills brought about by what they call US hegemony in Southeast Asia, protest US military presence in the Philippines and denounce the Bush administration for “crimes” against the people.

“We will be there to let the world know that Filipinos are standing up to this gathering whose benefit is not for nations in Southeast Asia but for the imperialist countries,” Casilao told a Davao press conference this week.

He said the anticipated presence of G8 countries only shows how the summit serves “to tighten imperialist’s political intervention and economic domination in Southeast Asia.”

“The summit will also be a venue for the US imperialist to secure its trade interests in its home markets in the region, pave the way towards securing lines for further oil sourcing and work on countries willing to open their doors to the planned realignment and redeployment of the US imperial troops in the region,” said Jeppie Ramada, Bayan Muna partylist coordinator in the city.

The leftists also criticized the Arroyo government for its lavish preparations for the summit.

They said that the president’s allocation of more than a billion pesos of the people’s money for a one-time four-day event is just ludicrous given the deprivations suffered by her people.

They cited that the amount allocated for the summit, for instance, would be enough to build 25,000 classroom buildings, at a time when countless schoolchildren have been going to schools under tree shades.

Likewise, the amount could have built 450,000 houses for the homeless, the group said.

“But what the government did instead was to demolish houses near the summits venue,” said Corazon Espinosa of the militant association of urban poor women Samakana, or Samahan ng mga Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa.

Espinosa said 700 houses were demolished in Cebu, all for Arroyo’s desire to impress Asean visitors.

Meanwhile, workers have also lambasted Arroyo’s declaration of a four-day non-working holiday in time for the summit.

Inday Duterte of the Anakpawis partylist group said some 120,000 workers in Cebu stand to lose their income for four days. “But surely, as a major US puppet in the region, she is expected to go to great lengths just to show that the Philippines is doing great under the auspices of her imperial master,” Duterte said.

“But we will make sure that, with the people’s summit, we will expose the real situation of the people under the trade globalization dictat of the US,” Ramada said.

Already, they have begun work for the logistics of getting themselves to Cebu. The contingent will be composed of farmers, urban poor and workers representing their organizations.

Activists from Southeast Asian nations are also expected to gather at the event, where they would be joined by activists from New Zealand, Belgium, the Netherlands and United States. (Cheryll D. Fiel/davaotoday.com)

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