Archives | Cordillera | Publications | International Work | Campaigns |Elders Work | Galleries | About Us | Home


July 21, 2008

back to top back to top


As we struggle for survival despite the economic crisis that the Filipino people experience today, people who dare to speak out their grievances on the matter are answered with harassment and repression, as bluntly shown by some elements of the local police last Saturday, June 12.

Our members were initiating a signature campaign and a small program in the city's public market condemning the weekly oil price hikes and the current economic crisis when the local police began to force them out seeking permits. Our members and organizers boldly held ground with strong will to defend their right to express and assemble. In a sudden, two Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) vans came in support of two groups of policemen already there and tried to block the program from the view of market-goers, consequently clogging the road. Armed SWAT members unloaded from the vans and personnel not in uniform negotiated with the organizers.

Our members valiantly asserted their freedom of speech and assembly despite the harassment, yet in an attempt to shush our legitimate calls, the police began to alarm their sirens, crowd the area, and drag some of our members while pulling and destroying our borrowed megaphone, flag and placards. Even with vendors and market-goers expressing support to our cause and activity and complaining of armed personnel and vehicles crowding the area, the state forces continued taunting and grabbing our members, with one of them sustaining a slash on the left foot.

These actions by "Baguio's Finest," supposedly there "to serve and protect," is clearly harassment and repression to progressive organizations voicing out views on the current economic state. We could not help but wonder what armed personnel in full battle gear assisted by officers not in uniform are doing to unarmed youth protesting the weekly increase of the price of oil, calling for the scrapping of E-VAT on petroleum products and for the junking of the Oil Deregulation Law. We could not help but wonder what justifies the violence done to groups collecting signatures in protest of government neglect on these concerns of the basic masses.

It is upsetting to note that in this time of crisis, our hungry mouths are fed with police sticks and state violence. It is clear that the present administration is insincere about tackling the welfare of the people; and instead, earnest in silencing them with force. In the middle of hunger and poverty, the present administration fails to address the most urgent task of giving priority to basic social services. Instead, it institutionalizes repression, treating militant groups no different as it treats criminals and terrorists.

In these frank situations, we will continue to assert our freedom of speech and freedom to assembly. We will continue the fight to scrap the E-VAT on petroleum and other products, and the call to junk the Oil Deregulation Law. We demand that police, especially its authorities, review the basic guidelines of maximum tolerance in handling such situations, especially on the important issue of respect of human rights. No violence will stop us until true social justice is served. We will not falter in removing Gloria Arroyo. #

Published with financial contribution from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
Copyright © 2004 website content by Cordillera Peoples Alliance,
Website design by Borky Perida