DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A group on Tuesday hit out the government’s planned deployment of 41, 000 security forces tasked to secure the venue of the 30th ASEAN Summit this week, saying it betrays “exclusivity.”
“The massive security preparations for this week’s 30th ASEAN Summit, including the deployment of 41,000 police, soldiers and uniformed personnel to secure the summit venue, has exposed how ASEAN has become the domain of the region’s rich and powerful elite,” said the People’s Campaign for a Free, Sovereign and Peaceful Southeast Asia (People’s SEA Campaign) in a statement sent to media on Tuesday.
The People’s SEA Campaign issued the statement on the eve of the ASEAN Summit in Manila slated April 26-29. It said that “ASEAN’s political leaders and big business interests have become so afraid of criticisms and protests that they have decided to create a fortress.”
“In that place there is no room for ASEAN’s impoverished peoples to even talk about how hard life has become under ASEAN’s neoliberal economic policies,” it added.
On Tuesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that there’s no imminent threat to the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit this week.
“On the issue of ASEAN, the Armed Forces is part of the task force. The security and the one in charge of safeguarding and ensuring the events under ASEAN hosting goes on well is composed of a lot of agencies,” Padilla said. “We are all part of this team entrusted to ensure that the activities are held without any hitch,” AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, Jr. said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
The AFP spokesperson said they do not see any serious threat but authorities are prepared for any worst-case scenario.
“We don’t see any threat right now, no serious threat that is in the radar screen but our planning is always based on worst-case scenarios,” Padilla said. “So whatever worst-case scenarios that we anticipate that could happen, then adequate preparations and plans are laid down to meet these scenarios.”
Meanwhile, the People’s SEA Campaign will hold a press conference on Wednesday at the Mabuhay Restop, South Drive, Rizal Park (across the old Army Navy Club) to present their campaign related to ASEAN.
“It is time for ASEAN’s peoples to be heard. Before pandering again to foreign investors from the US, China, Japan and EU, our leaders in ASEAN should first cater to the needs and interests of their people. The first step is to allow our people to air their grievances and solutions to the problems of poverty, joblessness and environmental destruction,” the People’s SEA Campaign said.
The group has vowed to hold series of protest actions during the various ASEAN meetings and events this year, including ASEAN’S meeting with US Pres. Donald Trump and other world leaders in November.
The People’s SEA Campaign is composed of labor unions, farmers groups, indigenous peoples and other sectors adversely affected by ASEAN’s neoliberal economic model.
The group is organized by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or Bayan), People Over Profits Network (POP) and the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS). (davaotoday.com)