APEC only makes masses poorer — labor groups
MANILA, Philippines — Labor groups, entrepreneurs, and climate and student activists held a mass demonstration on Wednesday, November 18, against the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit's "abuse of workers' rights."
The militants marched from the University of Santo Tomas to Liwasang Bonifacio, where they were blocked by police forces. They organized in front of the Metropolitan Theater instead.
Leody de Guzman, president of Bukluran ng mga Nationalista Ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), said they are against the APEC summit because it only makes laborers poorer and pushes the middle class down the labor sector.
Among the groups that protested were Sanlakas, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya, Partido Manggagawa, KPLM, Sentro, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, and SPARK.
The protest adds to the series of mass demonstrations that happened across Metro Manila on Wednesday, exposing APEC's "exploitative agenda."
APEC violates workers' rights
According to de Guzman, policies that are implemented out of APEC negotiations target micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and thus, will only lead to small businessmen's downfall. (READ: APEC 2015: Technology key to developing SMEs)
"Now, their target are the MSMEs because there is a lot of money circulating in that sector. They will take the money from the middle class' livelihood," de Guzman said.
Partido Manggagawa national chair Rene Magtubo said that APEC is engaging in "double speak" as repression of workers rights belies inclusive growth as a theme.
"Inclusive growth in APEC is impossible without respect for basic labor rights, including the right to unionize and receive living wages," according to Magtubo.
De Guzman argued that APEC discussions will not talk about how to solve the country's economic problems but rather to enlarge profit for capitalists and multi-national corporations to futher exploit the labor sector.
"That's why APEC is the 'Alliance of Pirates, Exploiter Club.' It is not cooperation among nations' citizens. It is an economic cooperation of big businessmen and how they can create bigger profits," de Guzman said.
APEC accounts for nearly half of world trade, and about 57% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to the labor group head, the 1996 APEC summit serves as an example of the regional bloc's exploitative policies. He said that instead of having prosperity, poverty happened.
"The government offers our masses to capital. Labor rights disappeared. They don't have job security now," he said.
According to De Guzman, the Philippines is no longer experiencing and economic crisis, rather a "social crisis."
"More and more people go to sleep without eating dinner. More and more people eat leftover trashed food. More and more countries see us as trashy that's why they send us their rubbish," de Guzman said. (READ: PH groups urge Canadian PM: Take back illegal trash)
Services for citizens
The labor group head said that government leaders should step down from office if they cannot give justice to proper services of their its constituents.
He dared them to leave office or to "privatize Malacañang" instead.
"If they do not have the capacity, don't run in office. Give it to the laborers instead, we will give proper services." — Rappler.com