As the year draws to an end, we heave a collective sigh of relief for having survived the difficulties of 2007, as we remain ever ready to face the challenges of 2008. The following are for me some of the 4M’s of 2007. They are listed in no particular order of importance.
- The release of the Melo Report, the Alston Report and the Permanent People’s Tribunal verdict – Both the Melo report and the Alston reports demolished the Armed Forces of the Philippines line that the extrajudicial killings of activists were the result of an internal purge of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The Melo report pins responsibility on the butcher M/Gen. Jovito Palparan for the killings. The Alston report blames the Arroyo government’s counter-insurgency program for the killings. The PPT verdict meanwhile sought to give the bigger picture on how the economic and political crisis in the Philippines, and the Bush-Arroyo war on terror, gave rise to extra-judicial killings and repression in general. Later in the year, the US Senate would tie $2 million in additional military aid to the Philippine government’s human rights record.
- The arrest and detention of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo – We were there during the arrest of Ka Satur after filing his petition before the Supreme Court. We were also there at the Manila Police District at 4:30am when Ka Satur was about to be transferred to Hilonggos, Leyte. The picture of Ka Satur being forced into a waiting vehicle spoke volumes on the state of repression in the Philippines. Ka Satur was eventually given temporary liberty by the Supreme Court of the Philippines after posting bail.
- The release of Ka Bel after more than a year of detention, the junking of the rebellion case against 50 + personalities – The Supreme Court of the Philippines this year finally junked the rebellion cases against the Batasan 6 and others accused of rebellion for the incidents in February 24, 2006. Ka Bel was released after spending a year and four months under hospital arrest.
- The march to Mendiola on the first day of the implementation of the anti-terror law – The implementation of the Human Security Act was met with indignation. For the first time in a long time, Bayan forces were able to march to Mendiola and hold a program sans any violent dispersal. Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim has announced publicly that he will allow protests in Mendiola on weekends and holidays. It felt good to be back in Mendiola that day.
- The SONA protests, the giant effigy and the foreign contingents – One of the biggest protests of the year was the annual State of the Nation Address of the president. It was a colorful march whose highlights included the giant “Gloria Manananggal Arroyo” which had the torso detaching from the waist, just like a real manananggal. Also, the sizeable foreign contingent from Belgium, Korea and the United States really grabbed the attention of rally participants and the media. Of course, the Bureau of Immigration was pissed off and even threatened to deport all the foreigners.
- Lighting protest of the LFS in front of the US embassy – Anniversary mob of the LFS marching right up to the embassy seal. The embassy seal seemed to almost fall off the wall.
- Urban poor march and program to Mendiola on December 6 – On Urban Poor Day, members of Kadamay marched to Mendiola and held a program. This one’s interesting because they did it sans a permit and on a weekday, getting past the police phalanx.
- August 30, International Day of the Disappeared – For the second year in a row, we marked International Day of the Disappeared. This year’s protest was highlighted the cases of Jonas Burgos, Luisa Dominado and Nilo Arado.
- December 14 Nationwide protests and transport strike vs oil price increases – – It has been two years since the last transport strike. The action succeeded to a certain extent, forcing the government to ask the oil companies not to raise prices for the remainder of the year.
- Noise barrage and rally at the Elliptical Road in the aftermath of the Batasan blast – this one was a big protest action that was a multisectoral effort aimed at drumming up the “Gloria Resign!” call.
- Caged protest in front of New Zealand parliament – This one got the attention of the foreign media. While Mrs. Arroyo was in New Zealand for an official trip, lone protester Dennis Maga was inside a steel cage in front of Parliament protesting the political repression in the Philippines.
- Protests at the PICC vs electoral fraud – We did several protest actions at the PICC to protest the election fraud that marred the 2007 national polls. There were several broad actions and quite some action during these protests. This included the hosing down of protesters at one protest action. We also realized that the Cultural Center of the Philippines is BIG and that marching and running around it was no small feat (as even the police found out).
Off course there other notable and memorable events for 2007, including the Manila Peninsula incident but there wasn’t really much of a mass movement in the Peninsula, which is why the action did not succeed in its avowed objectives.