Over the weekend, top officials of the Arroyo administration announced that foreign activists attending the counterpoint activities to the Asean Leaders’ Summit in Cebu City will be barred from entering the Philippines as soon as they arrive at any of the country’s international airports. Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez even went so far as pledging that foreign and local activities who will dare spoil GMA’s roadshow in Cebu City will be thrown out to the sea waters to be devoured by sharks!
The last time I checked, the Philippines professes to be a democracy. Activists have once again proven how unsubstantial Philippine democracy is. It is all for show — because it provides no place for dissent, for views in direct opposition to those being shoved down our throats by Mrs. Arroyo and her cabal.
The Arroyo government’s gambit against anti-Asean, anti-globalization and anti-imperialist protests is bound to backfire. The more the fascist regime tries to suppress the protests, the more it will attract attention to the repressive nature of the Philippine government, adding more evidence side by side with the still-unresolved and continuing extrajudicial killings and harassment of progressive partylists and mass organizations.
Gonzalez’s attempt to copy the Singaporean treatment of anti-IMF protesters will make the Philippine government a lightning rod of righteous and indignant protests — for what genuine democracy cannot afford to respect activism and protests?
Besides, what do activitists have in store for the Asean Leaders’ Summit?
Will the International League of Peoples Struggle attempt to actually disrupt the meeting in anarchist fashion? No. The ILPS intends to hold conferences and assemblies to highlight the growing power of the United States as a plundering and terrorist power in the region, abetted in no small way by pro-US puppet presidents such as Arroyo herself. The ILPS will focus on the US intervention in Asean and how poisonous such a licentious US presence has wrought on the economies, environment and social conditions of the region’s peoples. The ILPS position is backed up by empirical data and the daily experiences of Southeast Asians who have to endure corrupt, US-supported and fascist regimes, and the plunder of their economies and natural resources under the pretext of “freemarket” globalization. On top of these, the ILPS refuses to buy the line that the Philippines or the region for that matter should be the second front in the reckless and baseless US war of terror.
What does Bayan and Bayan Muna intend to do? Nothing much except to mobilize tens of thousands of Filipinos to demand an end to neocolonial economics that has ruined our people’s livelihood and the sending back of US military personnel to their homes. The Philippines will be in a far better shape once the US leaves the parasitical local elite alone for the national-democratic struggle to defeat, so that genuine democracy, progress and peace may reign in the country. US intervention in the Philippines is a cruel reality. It is terrible cancer that saps the life away from the country, robs us of our dignity as a nation, and maintains the rotten social system for its selfish ends. We do not buy the obsolete argument of colonial-minded officials and pundits that US support will save the Philippines and bring us to heaven. That is insane and does not have any basis in fact whatsoever. US domination of the country is one big reason why we remain a “banana republic”.
On another note, Pascal Lamy, the chief of the World Trade Organization is reported to be a major speaker in the Asean Leaders’ Summit. We believe he will only push for bilateral trade deals with the US and the European Union — the contents of which are usually much worse than the WTO agreements. The quotas, timetable and coverage of the bilateral deals are much more biased in favor of the big imperialist countries and only gives countries such as ours the loser end of the bargain. Lamy is coming from a strategic defeat after the collapse of the Doha Round of the WTO talks. No deal has been made for the global push for pro-imperialist trade — meaning, the world bought for itself a reprieve from intensified plunder by big multinationals and transnationals backed by their mother country’s governments. We look forward to shaming Lamy by way of telling to his face that semi-feudal and semi-colonial Philippines will be better off without the WTO, and that WTO impositions are worsening the plight of our people.
The Asean leaders also desperately need a wake-up call for their wild dream of setting an EU-style common market for the region. The commonality of the region is that we all live in semi-feudal and semi-colonial conditions, with only a smattering a processing, repacking, packing and light to medium manufacturing industries surrounded by huge farm areas monopolized by landlords. Worse, the US and the local elites continue to prevent authentic democratization and industrialization. How can this situation provide the basis for a common market, EU-style?
And so on Dec. 9, I will join the Manila voyagers who will travel by ship to Cebu, in no small way a tribute to the first anti-colonial hero Lapu-lapu who defeated the globe-trotting colonizer Magellan.
Centuries since that time, the Philippines and the region continue to reel from the ill-effects of colonialism and imperialism and we hope to throw at the sharks the genuine harbingers of doom and decay in these parts of the globe, and their farcical ideas and policies for maldevelopment. The US must get out, must be shoved out of Asean, first things first.