4 arrested in protest vs WEF, Aquino government

The so-called tiger economy of the Philippines has never trickled down to the poorest Filipino communities, most of which can be found in climate-sensitive and disaster prone areas still vastly vulnerable and unprepared for their impact.” – Kalikasan PNE

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Four activists, including two seniors, who joined the protest against the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Makati were arrested by policemen.

According to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), elements of the Southern Police District under the command of a certain Col. Manuel Lucban blocked the protesters along Ayala Avenue and pushed them all the way to EDSA corner McKinley Road. The WEF on East Asia has started today at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati.

Arrested were Edhie Boy Pillada 20, Jon Sto. Domingo 38, Gabriel Lopez 61, Felix Reyes 66. They were brought to the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Bonifacio Global City (BGC).

“While Filipino protesters were being dispersed, Philippine president Benigno Aquino III proclaimed to the WEF delegates how good governance had caused an economic turnaround for the Philippines. The hypocrisy of it all is that while the Aquino government says it is committed to inclusive growth, its economic policies only bring about greater exclusion and marginalization,” Renato Reyes Jr., Bayan secretary general, said in a statement.

Policemen block anti-World Economic Forum protesters along Ayala Avenue, Makati, May 21. (Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat.com)
Policemen block anti-World Economic Forum protesters along Ayala Avenue, Makati, May 21. (Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat.com)

President Benigno Aquino III delivered the keynote address during the opening session this morning. In his speech, Aquino claimed that his government is pursuing good governance and inclusive growth. “The country is in the midst of a dramatic turnaround in every sector and we are intent on continuing this trend and making certain that each and every Filipino enjoys the full dividends of progress.”

Charlotte Velasco, national chairwoman of the League of Filipino Students, said, “Again, Aquino showed that he is willing to do anything for his true bosses – foreign capitalists and imperialists, at the expense of the people.”

“Aquino’s ‘Philippine Miracle’ is an alien concept to the youth and the people struggling to survive the worsening and deepening poverty in the country,” Velasco said. “There is no miracle, only tragedy! Where is the miracle in the 39% increase of total wealth and assets of the 40 richest family in country while there are more than 65 million Filipino living below P104 daily?” she added.

According to independent think-tank Ibon, there are 4.5 million jobless Filipinos and some 7.3 million underemployed.

The youth group said the “WEF will only be used by Aquino to push another round of anti-people policies that would subject the country to further foreign control and plunder violating our sovereignty and patrimony.”

Environmentalist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) described the Philippines’ hosting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia as “a high-level sugarcoating.”

Members of progressive groups hold a protest action against the ongoing World Economic Forum on East Asia. (Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat.com)
Members of progressive groups hold a protest action against the ongoing World Economic Forum on East Asia. (Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat.com)

“The hosting of the World Economic Forum in the Philippines is a clear high-level cover-up of the ‘business as usual’ economics of resource plunder, dirty investments, and abandonment of public services. The so-called tiger economy of the Philippines has never trickled down to the poorest Filipino communities, most of which can be found in climate-sensitive and disaster prone areas still vastly vulnerable and unprepared for their impact,” Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, said.

Bearing the theme, “Leveraging growth for equitable progress,” the WEF claims in its programme objectives that it seeks to advance models for sustainable growth, with focus on strengthening responses to disasters and investing in green technologies, among others.

“These corporate interests are scrambling to spruce up PH’s supposed miraculous growth, exposed during Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) to be concentrated in the hands of foreign, private monopolies and corrupt politicians. We saw the rise of investments in coal mining and energy, large-scale mining, and special economic zones, but saw insufficient resources mobilized for the Yolanda response and the massive gaps in the country’s disaster resiliency and climate-proofing needs,” Bautista noted.

Members hold a protest action against the ongoing World Economic Forum, May 21. (Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat.com)
Members hold a protest action against the ongoing World Economic Forum, May 21. (Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat.com)

The Kalikasan PNE pointed out that so-called development projects that have long contributed to global warming and worsened community vulnerabilities are expanding under the Aquino administration. These include large-scale mining operations that have increased from 28 projects in 2010 to 41 in 2013 and 17 new projects of coal-fired power plants, which the group described as one of the dirtiest energy sources and leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

Bautista said the WEF is encouraging the entry of the Philippines and other Asian countries into the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Bautista said that under the TPPA, trade, social, environment, and health and safety regulations on the entry of foreign investment in member countries will be removed, effectively dismantling national sovereignty and patrimony by allowing foreign big businesses to own the land and resources in the said countries. It also allows corporations to sue governments in an international tribunal in cases where the government impedes their operations. ()

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