Alab Katipunan, which is a member of Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and People’s Forum on APEC (PFA) 2015 and of which the Bukluran ng Progresibong Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (BPMP) is an affiliate member, strongly denounce the general condition of state repression in the name of corporations and agri-business which attended the hosting of several preparatory meetings of the Asia-Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Iloilo City on September 23-October 6, 2015.
Such condition of state repression takes the form of virtual police and military control of Iloilo City which prevents concerned groups from exercising their fundamental freedom of expression and of assembly by denying the issuance of rally permits, putting up police checkpoints and barricades around the suburbs and downtown Iloilo City, and provoking violent dispersals of peaceful rallies. In denying the issuance of rally permit, the fundamental freedom of expression and of assembly are in effect banned, as “no permit, no rally” has been officially declared by the Local Government.
The violent dispersal that provoked the clash between members of BPMP, Alab-Katipunan, FDC and PFA2015 on October 4, 2015 from Sambag, Jaro and at the vicinity of Jaro Plaza on the occasion of the holding of the High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy is but an outcome of this policy.
While we regret the incident to have happened and ask the understanding of PNP elements who may have been hurt by simply following orders, we are condemning the callous policy of repression by the government to protect corporate profit.
Our members were injured in the ensuing commotion instigated by PNP in full riot gear who started shoving our ranks with their riot shields and bludgeoning the heads of farmers and youth with their truncheons. We are currently processing the medico-legal documentations of our members who suffered from the violent dispersal.
This state repression was not only manifested by the use of violence but also by the targeted illegal arrestof BPMP’s National Chairman, Mr. Joel Gepaya while he was being interviewed by media when the violent dispersal was initiated. As of the moment, Mr. Gepaya is still detained at Jaro Police Station 3 without any charges being filed.
May we explain the events leading to this unfortunate incident:
So, why we have to stage a rally? The specific ongoing APEC event is the High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security of which the earlier High Level Policy Dialogue on Biotechnology is part of. As farmers, rural and urban workers, youth and women who are the direct stakeholders in food production as well as consumption, we have AS MUCH OR EVEN MORE RIGHT TO BE HEARD ON THE ISSUE than the so-called experts, corporate stockholders of biotech and agribusiness and officials of governments. The farmers and consumers are not represented in their meetings. (Please see attached separate statement on this.)
Ironically, APEC 2015’s by-word is INCLUSIVE GROWTH, but their practice is total exclusion of the majority.
Why did this incident happen? It is because the political and PNP leadership are protecting the interests of biotech, agchem and agribusiness corporations more than the survival and interests of poor farmers, rural workers and consumers. They are even willing to repress the people’s fundamental freedoms as enshrined in our Constitution, which they have sworn to protect if only to serve this purpose.
For the political and PNP leadership as well as some media outlets to simply reduce the mass demonstration of the people’s agenda as a “disturbance” and the protesters as “mere troublemakers and disrespectful” causing “embarrassment to the sterling record in their enforcement of their version of “peace and order” is either deliberate diversion or complete unfamiliarity or worse, ignorance, of biotechnology and food security issues confronting the world today. This is an issue of grave relevance for all humanity, which pits corporate greed and profit on one hand, and people and communities survival on the other.
Lastly, to infuse regionalism as another form of diversion of the issue, by singling out a certain leader as “alog” which caused “trouble” to an otherwise peaceful Ilonggos is to us, very narrow proposition and completely unacceptable. It is just like saying that the PNP Chief, the different PNP national directorates, or other regions have nothing to do with the affairs of Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO). For all we know, the PNP Chief was also here and that units from other parts of the country are augmenting the local PNP. Like the PNP, ours are also national organizations and that decisions of individuals are not arbitrary but in accordance with the mandate of the organization.
BPMP – Bukluran ng Progresibong Magbubukid ng Pilipinas
FDC – Freedom From Debt Coalition
PFA2015 – People’s Forum on APEC 2015
October 5, 2015
Photo Credits by: Alab Katipunan
Freedom from Debt Coalition
The Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – Philippines is a nationwide multi-sectoral, non-sectarian and pluralist coalition conducting policy advocacy work and campaigns to realize a common framework and agenda for economic development.