APEC Blues

BLOOD RUSH
By SARAH RAYMUNDO

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The Aquino regime has only buried us deeper into conditions of social and economic backwardness.

As president, he has brought the liberalization of trade to its foregone conclusion: a local econoomy that cannot move anywhere beyond export-orientation and import-dependence.
The Aquino regime has opted to derail the Peace Talks in favor of the criminalization of political dissent, enforced disappearances, and extra-judicial killings. All that sits well with its compliance to the US COIN (counter-insurgency program) and its localized version, Oplan Bayanihan. The Aquino regime has refused the opportunity to sit and talk about a much needed comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms (CASER) with its so-called “enemies” whose draft on the topic has only been waiting to be discussed fruitfully. Furthermore, the Aquino regime has also resorted to the violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) in almost all encounters between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the New People’s Army (NPA).

It has dumbed down a populace by making it believe that killing rebels in the most brutal of ways is legitimate. No LAW allows for the killing of any suspected rebel and/or criminal. But IMPUNITY is Aquino’s game for which he prides himself and his mercenary army.

The only reason why Professor Emeritus Winnie Monsod and Jesuit priest Fr. Alejo can attempt at dampening the worldwide call to ?#?StopLumadKillings? is precisely because the Aquino regime has succeeded in distorting the laws that guard human rights so that by linking the revolutionary NPA or the Communist Party of the Philippines to the Lumad campaign, people are supposed to find good reason for the killings of indigenous peoples.

Do you see how this government attempts at making each and everyone of us a stupid citizen, oblivious of human rights and with a very crude sense of the struggles of the indigenous peoples in our land? Aren’t you enraged? I am!

Now this regime is all set for APEC. It is hosting it for the second time after 19 years. Aquino’s hosting of APEC only proves its criminal design and implementation of a monolithic national agenda.

A monolithic national agenda that allows for the exploitation of farm workers through contract growing and corporate agriculture has also resulted in peasant poverty and landlessness. A monolithic national agenda legitimizes the killings of indigenous farmers to pave the way for mining plunder. A monolithic national agenda rejects a program for a genuine national industrialization, and therefore frustrates any plan to bolster local manufacturing or a self-reliant economy.

Cleary, there have been alternatives to impunity, poverty, landlessness, economic backwardness, corruption, and misery.

When I was still very small, my mother would almost always reproach me for not finishing all the rice on my plate. I was told that farmers worked hard to put rice on our table yet most of them are so poor. Back then I did not know how cleaning up my plate helps poor farmers in any way. I never bothered to clarify because she made it appear like the sense in her “table manners” was self-evident. Quite predictably, I grew up a rice-loving creature who feels responsible for other people’s leftover. And apart from that, growing up and growing old with people whose defense of human rights does not seem to waver, I have come to realize that my mother’s “table manners” were less a solution to the misery of Filipino farmers than a demand to be mindful of the labor of others on which my own and yours rest.

The 1996 massive APEC protest was my first mobilization out-of-town. I owe it to myself and to the politics that brought me here to encourage everyone to join the November 19 APEC protest, and in the process, understand more how “economic cooperation” that refuses a harvest for the world can be opposed and replaced by something else, something better, something that can unite us with the basic sectors in Philippine society. And I sure hope it will be something that will no longer make us feel guilty each time we leave the table without finishing the rice. ()

Sarah Raymundo is a full-time faculty at the University of the Philippines-Center for International Studies (UP-CIS Diliman) and a member of the National Executive Board of the All U.P. Academic Employees Union. She is the current National Treasurer of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the External Vice Chair of the Philppine Anti-Impeiralist Studies (PAIS). She is also a member of the Editorial Board of Interface: A Journal for Social Movements.

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