Women’s group protest Edca, Apec

Women's group Gabriela protest against Apec and Edca in front of US Embassy. (Photo grabbed from Gabriela Twitter account.)
Women’s group Gabriela protest against Apec and Edca in front of US Embassy. (Photo grabbed from Gabriela Twitter account.)

“We condemn this latest Apec circus among imperialist powers agreeing to divvy up the wealth and military spheres of influence among themselves.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Progressive women’s group Gabriela picketed in front of the United States embassy on Thursday, Nov. 12, protesting the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) and the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.

The Supreme Court should declare Edca as unconstitutional, said Gabriela members in their protest. This week, the Senate adopted Resolution 1414 filed by Sen. Miriam Santiago, which said Edca is an invalid treaty without their concurrence.

Gabriela Secretary General Joms Salvador said the Senate resolution should nudge the SC towards a legal interpretation of Edca that would protect the sovereignty of the Philippines. She added that the SC should take the cue from the Senate and show its independence in their decision on Edca.

“The government seems obsessed with presenting President Barack Obama with a welcome present of a favorable Edca ruling. This should make Filipinos realize that the real agenda of the US is to use Apec as a scheme to build an East Asian Bulwark after convincing Japan to rewrite its pacifist constitution and rearm as an aggressor imperial army,” said Salvador.

Irma Bajar of Gabriela USA, who is also among the members of the International Women’s Alliance (IWA) said the Edca will allow the US to use the Philippines as a military outpost to defend its investments in the Pacific region against Chinese incursions.

Monique Wilson joining the protest against Apec and Edca in front of US Embassy. (Photo grabbed from Gabriela Twitter account.)
Monique Wilson joining the protest against Apec and Edca in front of US Embassy. (Photo grabbed from Gabriela Twitter account.)

“Edca converts the entire Philippines into one big military base, so Edca is the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) on steroids. It is shameful that both American and Filipino taxpayers pay huge subsidies to station US forces in the country where soldiers commit abuses against women and children, and leave toxic pollution while conducting patrols and war games,” Bajar said.

They also denounced the US military build-up in the Asia Pacific Region provoked by the Asia Pivot strategy of Obama.

Gathering of women activists

The recently concluded International Women’s Alliance (IWA), a global alliance of grassroots women activists also slammed Apec, calling it “a grand conspiracy to ram through the military and political agenda of imperialist domination over women and impoverished people in the region.”

“We condemn this latest Apec circus among imperialist powers agreeing to divvy up the wealth and military spheres of influence among themselves,” said Liza Maza, chairperson of IWA. “ This drunken party has gone way beyond niceties of trade negotiations, with Japan, China, Russia and the US moving their client pawns across the Apec chessboard, plundering our resources, raping our sisters and occupying territories,” she said.

The IWA held their second general assembly on Wednesday, Nov. 11. The assembly was attended by veteran leaders of national liberation movements, environmentalists and human rights advocates including the icon of the Palestinian and Pan-Arab movements in the 1970s, Leila Khaled. They will also join the International League of People’s Struggles assembly which begins tomorrow, Nov. 14.

Salvador said IWA assembly was also meant to counter President Aquino’s “sanitation” of streets in Manila.

“Aquino does not want the world to see how Apec-spurred economic policies have failed to uplift the lives of Filipino families. He wants to hide the failure of the Conditional Cash Transfer program propped up by loans from the Asian Development Bank,” said Salvador.

Salvador pointed out that women and children have been targeted by token poverty-alleviation programs to veil the real effect of neo-liberal policies that serve to stunt national industries that can solve the problems of joblessness and poverty.

Women's group Gabriela protest against Apec and Edca in front of US Embassy. (Photo grabbed from Gabriela Twitter account.)
Women’s group Gabriela protest against Apec and Edca in front of US Embassy. (Photo grabbed from Gabriela Twitter account.)

The Apec Women Economic Forum, for example, she said, offers token programs for women such as trainings and micro-financing to develop small and medium entrepreneurs among women.

“We know, however, that based on experience, without regular jobs in industries, the capital will be consumed by everyday needs and their lives will revert to the cycle of poverty.”

In the IWA conference, women from Indonesia, Latin America and Pakistan, who have also been suffering the effects of plunder and environmental destruction, had the opportunity to share with Filipino women living in garbage dumps and urban poor communities.

Women fighting for national identity and liberation from Palestine and Kurdistan also shared with Lumad women who are fighting for ancestral domain and against militarization.

The group said the women will confront the visit of APEC top leaders with more protests as their clear message against neoliberal policies imposed by rich countries on the poor that worsen poverty and exploitation through plunder and militarism. ()

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