Earlier tonight, urban poor group Balikwas Kadamay and Lumad group Save Our Schools Network held a cultural program at the doorstep of Duterte’s Malacañang.
We can’t help but realize the common denominator among their plights: internal displacement. In the countryside, the Lumad are being driven away from their ancestral domain to allow the entry of foreign mining companies, agri-corporations, and plantations. In the cities, urban poor houses are being demolished to give way for malls, condominiums, and other business interests.
This November, different progressive sector groups held a week-long protest during the ASEAN and East Asia Summits where leaders of global superpowers discuss how to further penetrate captive markets, plunder natural resources, and exploit workers through cheap labor and slave-like working conditions. Consequently, Duterte ordered concerned government agencies and the Congress to fast-track the removal of foreign investment restrictions, which would require legislation.
The push for all-out liberalization will result in more demolitions, land-grabbing, and militarization, both in the urban and countryside. Cases of human rights violations will increase as the state employs the police and military to protect business interests.
It is not just ironic but unjust that the urban poor and indigenous peoples have no place to go while the government seeks to allow 100% foreign ownership. Maybe at some point in their lives, they have asked where is their place in this country. We say that their place (and our place) is in the struggle. In the struggle for land, decent housing, regular domestic jobs, and living wage. In the struggle against imperialist plunder, for national and economic sovereignty.