Makati police arrest 4 anti-WEF protesters
MANILA, Philippines – Is the Philippines the “next Asian miracle?” One party-list representative thinks miracles don’t exist.
In a statement, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said Philippine President Benigno Aquino III should “stop deluding himself and the people” in painting the country as an economic powerhouse during the 23th World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in Makati City.
Former Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño agreed with Colmenares’ message, accusing Aquino of “window-dressing the Philippine economy before the global elite to hide the fact that poverty has worsened and corruption is as rampant as ever.”
Casiño was part of a group of protesters who attempted to hold a rally near the Makati Shangri-la Hotel where most WEF talks are being held.
In a phone interview with Rappler, Casiño said police dispersed the group a little past 2 pm on Thursday, May 22. “Hindi pa kami naglalapag ng banners, they dispersed us. So nagkatulakan,” he said. (We hadn’t even unfurled our banners and they already dispersed us. People started pushing and shoving.)
Makati police chief Senior Superintendent Manuel Lukban told Rappler 4 protesters were arrested for illegal assembly, assault against persons in authority, and for obstructing traffic.
The 4 have been brought by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to the Southern Police District for investigation. Casiño himself was almost arrested, he said.
TV footage showing the confrontation showed pushing and shoving between protesters and police, before the former were eventually led away in the direction of EDSA.
Police said the protesters did not secure a permit before holding the rally opposing the WEF. Casiño, during the phone interview, admitted they didn’t have a permit to hold the rally, but added they were cooperating with authorities.
“Wala kaming permit. But that’s precisely why we were there ahead of time. Tinawagan namin si Lukban to coordinate,” he said. (We didn’t have a permit but that’s precisely why were there ahead of time. We called Lukban to coordinate.)
Lukban confirmed the group called him to coordinate but said protesters were already creating a ruckus before he could arrive to speak to organizers. “Masabi lang na may coordination,” he added. (They called just so they'd be able to say there was coordination.)
The Makati police chief added that some protesters were cursing at and hitting police while they were being dispersed.
Casiño said the group was calling out Aquino and his administration for their “hypocrisy.”
“Aquino and his fans in the WEF may dream on, but the reality is that his people are suffering from his failed economic policies,” he said in a statement. He added the protesters, composed of different groups, were also protesting “the kind of economic policies that WEF is pushing.”
He also criticized “the hypocrisy of all these big corporations and government officials… discussing about how they can bleed more profits from the world” without involving the “ordinary people.” – Rappler.com