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Anti-APEC protest snuffed out by riot police


ILOILO CITY
May 11, 2015

To show that Aklan Province is prosperous and peaceful, the Aquino government flooded it with soldiers and police instead of simply letting Akeanons go about their daily grind.

The northwestern Panay Province now crawls with at least 6,000 Armed Forces members and police personnel, particularly the capital Kalibo, New Washington and Malay, the town having jurisdiction of Caticlan port and Boracay Island resort.

The Caticlan jetty port links mainland Panay with Boracay.

That militarized atmosphere will last until May 24 when the ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Cooperation (APEC) held in Boracay Island ends.

George Calaor, chair of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) – Aklan, bewails that economic activities in Aklan and Boracay have been disrupted affecting thousands of entrepreneurs, small businesses, laborers and farmers.

Among his report:

* Over 1,000 sustenance fishers kicked out of their fishing ground, affecting mostly the town of New Washington. The Philippine Navy barred fishers from extracting in their traditional source, the portion of the sea between the town and Boracay, and the sea surrounding the island resort itself. Fishers are no longer allowed to dock their pumpboats on the beaches nor berth off New Washington because the Navy forbid them to.

*Construction workers are barred from entering Boracay because the tools of their trade like hammers, bores, chisels are considered “deadly weapons”. The only construction work that has not been disrupted is at the hotel owned by Lucio Tan, a Chinoy taipan.

*Farmers and households are no longer allowed to practice their tradition of drying their palay on the roadsides from Kalibo to Caticlan, a stretch of 60 kilometers.

*Ambulant vendors in Kalibo and the towns leading to Boracay are now restricted from displaying their wares on roadsides.

*Tricycles, the main mode of transport in Kalibo are now barred from plying their traditional route to present a semblance of order in traffic management.

*Tight security has turned off potential tourists. Even resort owners and their workers are subjected to measures like body frisk. The police at the Caticlan jetty port no longer search bags: they order the owners to disgorge their contents in their presence to prevent the entry of weapons incidentally to include scissors and nail-cutters.

That means, the affected sectors above have no choice but bear the loss of income and food until May 24.

At the presscon today, Bayan members denounce the Aquino administration for placing Aklan under “martial law”.

The presscon was held here to air what transpired yesterday in Kalibo when Bayan members staged a rally at the roadside.

The protesters were about 100 and were lining along the roadside. They expected more coming had not for the quick arrival of two trucks carrying riot police and another two trucks of battle-ready Army soldiers, about 400 in all. Two firetrucks showed up to reinforce the armed contingent.

The police staged “operation katok” in urban communities evening of May 9, warning dwellers to stay away from protests actions staged by Bayan. Morning of next day, riot police swarmed on urban poor commuinities to prevent members from joining the anti-Apec mass action.

At the scene of the rally, riot police, three-men deep, surrounded the anti-APEC protesters box-type and gradually closed down on them forcing the rallyists, who earlier formed a single line two meters apart to huddle together as their space constricted.

George Calaor said they were only exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly to redress grievances, and their freedom of expression. He was one of the two persons who the riot police shoved to the ground when the latter started pushing in.

Calaor showed reporters contusions in his right arm. He is incidentally a person with disability (PWD), a polio survivor to be more specific.

Elmer Forro, spokesperson of KMU-Panay says: “Wherever APEC holds meetings, people greet them with mass mobilizations.

APEC promises member countries prosperity but so far, it pushes people to poverty, particularly the workers, farmers and low income groups because of policies it imposes on member states like compliance to deregulation, liberalization and privatization. Filipinos are among the victims of such policies.

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