55 injured, 1 arrested after violent dispersal in ASEAN protests
◢ Beatrice P. Puente
At least 55 protesters were injured while one was arrested, after progressive groups opposing US President Donald Trump’s visit clashed with the police in the series of protests from November 12 to 14. Four of the injured were hospitalized.
Neil Legaspi, a paralegal from human rights group Karapatan, was merely driving their van when he was arrested on November 12 for allegedly bumping the police barricade, based on the complaint. He was released two days later but he will still undergo investigation. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna and Secretary-general Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) were likewise charged for resisting authorities.
“Pinapakita lamang ng rehimeng Duterte ang pagiging pasista nito sa mamamayan na nagpapahayag lamang ng nagaganap na katotohanan,” said Kakay Tolentino, spokesperson of Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu), among the groups that formed the 2000-strong contingent of protesters coming from different sectors: youth, women, and workers, among others.
Protesters were dispersed using water cannons on the November 12 and 13 rallies to prevent them from reaching the US Embassy and the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) where the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit meetings were held.
To disrupt the protesters, the police even used a Long Range Acoustic Device sonic alarm which produces loud sound that could damage the hearing of individuals.
The protest actions were primarily held to condemn the intervention of the US and other countries in the affairs within the Southeast Asian region. Aside from Trump, leaders from Canada, Russia, China, Australia, India, and South Korea were present in the summit, along with representatives from the United Nations and the European Council.
“Kahit ‘di sila taga-Asya, yung interes nila ang namamayani rito sa atin na lalong naglalagay sa atin sa dehadong posisyon at kahirapan,” said Reyes.
The militant groups also criticized ASEAN. Nothing much has changed with the state of the country despite being a member of the intergovernmental organization for five decades, according to the groups. The Philippines co-founded ASEAN in 1967, along with Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia.
The policies agreed upon in ASEAN for the past 50 years only benefitted neighboring countries and left the Philippines behind, said ACT Partylist Representative Antonio L. Tinio, citing that majority of the Filipinos remain poor and without jobs. They also denounced the costly government spending for holding the summit.
The government spent a total of P15.5 billion for car services, hotels, food and even the local travel of the international leaders.
It is ironic that the administration can allocate funds to host the summit when that amount could have been used to provide basic social services like education, housing, and mass transport systems, said Joms Salvador, secretary-general of women’s rights group Gabriela.
But the government cannot provide for the Filipino people’s basic social needs so long as the Philippine economy is tied to the US, said Reyes.
“Walang mabuting maidudulot sa Pilipinas ang pagbisita ni Donald Trump. Hangad ng mamamayang Pilipino ang tunay na kalayaan mula sa dayuhang dikta. Susi ito para matahak ng Pilipinas ang programang tunay na maglilingkod sa kanyang interes,” according to BAYAN in a statement. ◢
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