The Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) denounces the attempt of the police to brutally disperse the rally of APL-women commemorating International Women’s Day.
“The police has continuously displayed utter disregard of the fundamental right of Filipinos to hold peaceful rallies, including on the occasion recognized worldwide when different women organizations hold various activities to highlight their concerns,” Fatima Cabanag, Chairperson of the Katipunan ng mga Manggagawang Obrero (KAMAO), an affiliate of APL, said.
APL-women members, together with the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women (CATW) and AKBAYAN partylist representatives, converged at the Sto. Domingo church in Quezon City before marching towards Mendiola bridge in Manila to hold a program and publicly express their disgust at the government’s insensitivity to the plight of the women workers and the Filipino women in general.
However, as the marchers were turning left to Recto Avenue towards Mendiola, the police did not only block the marchers, but without any warning began pushing the peaceful march with their truncheons and swinging their clubs against our leaders and other members at the frontlines.
“This is the reason why our call is for the abrogation of Visiting Forces Agreement and the scrapping of the Human Security Act of 2007. The VFA has only worsened prostitution, proliferation of anti-social activities, and US military intrusion in our domestic affairs, while the newly signed anti-terror Act will only exacerbate human rights violations and militarization, both in the cities and in the countryside,” Cabanag added.
The short scuffle resulted to injuries among our ranks that included Cabanag who suffered contusions and abrasions. Injured also was Hon. Mayong Aguja, a partylist representative of Akbayan party, who suffered swollen welts in his arms. However, the marchers stood their ground and were able to thwart the attempt of the police to bully and intimidate the women march.
“The Filipino women, especially those from the working class and other marginalized sectors of our society, will continue to suffer the effects of the programs and policies of the Arroyo government, which was specifically designed to protect and advance instead the interests of the elites and the trapos,” Cabanag said.
The APL-women and allied groups still held their program at the corner of Morayta St. and Recto Avenue before dispersing peacefully in España St. They vowed to continue defending and advancing the interests, not only of the women, but of the whole working class, until a government that would truly serve the interests of the workers and other marginalized sectors shall have been finally realized.