MANILA — "War against poverty, not war against Iraq and Mindanao!" chanted 12,000 workers — members of the workers' party, Partido ng Manggagawa, and the socialist labour group, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) — as they marched down Ayala Avenue, Makati, on April 1.
Delegations from groups such as the progressive democratic coalition Sanlakas, the Unity Congress of the Urban Poor and members of the anti-war coalition Peace Camp also joined the rally.
The April 1 rally was the biggest labour-led anti-war action yet. Employees in offices above Ayala Avenue greeted the marchers by raining confetti down upon them. Others displayed anti-war banners.
Despite being held on April Fools Day, Partido ng Manggagawa chairperson Renato Magtubo declared, "our message is serious. The only way to stop this war is for the Americans, the Britons and the Australians to get rid of George Bush, John Howard and Tony Blair".
He added that the people of the Philippines "must also get rid of militarist regimes like that of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) to save the people from being dragged into a war not of their own making".
The protesters also demanded an end to the Philippines government's US-backed war against the people of Mindanao in southern Philippines. BMP chairperson Victor Briz demanded that the GMA government wage war against the poverty that afflicts 40% of the Philippines people. "Make jobs, not war", announced one of the BMP's giant banners.
On April 12, anti-war groups in the Philippines will join an internationally coordinated global day of action against the US-led invasion of Iraq. They are also preparing for a massive rally on May 1.
From Green Left Weekly, April 9, 2003.
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