Urban poor group Kadamay and residents of East Bank Manggahan Floodway in Barangay Sta. Lucia, Pasig City currently camped out in Mendiola, Manila assailed the threat to evict the ‘Homeless Camp’ starting today. Police said the clearing would be for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) preparations. This further agitated the groups  who claimed that the ASEAN and East Asia Summit (EAS) were the underlying reasons that brought about decades of demolitions and displacement of the poor.

“While the government of President Rodrigo Duterte remains silent and unresponsive to the demands of the Floodway residents in their ongoing homeless camp right outside the Presidential Palace, the administration seems to be very busy for a grand welcome for US President Donald Trump and other international delegates of the ASEAN and EAS. This is a blatant display of insensitivity,” said Kadamay National President Gloria Arellano.

Bayan and Anakbayan Metro Manila joined the urban poor groups in today’s press con as they marked the start of their week-long protest ahead of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the ASEAN and the 12th EAS meeting. Trump would make his first-ever state visit to the country when he joins the international meetings on November 12-14.

Kristian Advincula, Anakbayan Metro Manila Chairperson said, “Trump, being the chief executive officer of the US, being an imperialist superpower of the world is not welcome in the Philippines. Trump and his impositions on our economic framework policies caused various extreme hardships against poor Filipino families including homelessness, hunger and poverty.”

Advincula pointed-out that the privatization policy of government has been among the neoliberal policies imposed by the ASEAN and EAS on the Philippines and other major countries. The current iteration of the large-scale privatization program of this administration is what it calls the ‘Build, Build, Build’ (BBB) project.

Arellano said that the Duterte government’s BBB project only continued and worsened the implementation of Private Public Partnership (PPP) program of previous administrations. When in the PPP scheme, government and private businesses would share the costs of building infrastructure or for planned improvement of public utilities and services and thereafter let the private entities run them, Duterte’s BBB aimed to fund 100% of the costs of these programs that would eventually be run, maintained and profited from by private corporations.

The groups insisted that the Trump administration played a big role in pushing its economic, geographical, political and military agenda in the ASEAN and EAS, as it is desperate in acquiring the rich natural resources and the 55% of consumers market in the region.

Arellano said the ASEAN, EAS, Trump and Duterte were a bad mix for the poor.

“We believe that the upcoming meetings of global leaders for ASEAN, EAS and the scheduled meeting of Duterte and Trump will not serve the best interests of the poor but will only benefit the needs of big foreign corporations for the sake of collecting bigger profit for them,” explained Arellano.

Is Duterte for the poor?

Balikwas Kadamay slammed President Duterte for “exposing his true color that favor the rich and foreign firms.”

The group reminded Duterte that he would not be in the position where he is now if not because of the support of the majority of poor Filipinos who voted for him.

“We now ask President Duterte: where are the promises he made during the campaign period that there will be no demolitions of urban poor communities? Look at us now. We are homeless. We have nothing to call our own home because Pasig City Mayor Bobby Eusebio destroyed our homes, communities and livelihood,” says Rowena Villano, spokesperson of Balikwas Kadamay.

Villano lamented, “We voted for you with high hopes that you will fulfill your promises and that you will stand behind us. We are very much disappointed that you are still doing nothing to give us the justice that we deserve and you remain heedless to our demand of awarding the land we occupied in Floodway.”

She also urged President Duterte to face and talk to them in their protest camp.

They also wanted him to show sincerity in helping them by holding Pasig Mayor Roberto ‘Bobby’ Eusebio accountable to the violent demolition and their state of homelessness.

“We just want to know what really is the Duterte government’s plan for the poor like us. On our 12th day of camping here outside the Palace gate and while our fellow demolished residents remain in tents along the demolition site along Floodway, Duterte still dares not pay a visit to confront and even talk to us. Not even a single official from the Palace dared to talk to us,” said Jimlin Penolio, 17-year old Grade 12 student and secretary-general of Anakbayan Floodway.

Penolio stressed out, “Even if they don’t talk to us, our struggle continues. We are giving Duterte and Eusebio a strong warning that we will not be cowed and silenced. We will not stop until heads roll because of what happened to us.”

“We call on all homeless Filipinos and all victims of demolitions to join the camp and live with us in Mendiola to tell right to the face of Duterte that he did nothing to uplift the life of the poor. We also vow to join and mobilize in our thousands to the series of protests against ASEAN, EAS and Trump visit in the days to come,” Arellano ended.


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