Last February 16, 22, and 23, members from the Anakbayan – Vito Cruz chapter staged a series of peaceful protests along Agno Street, expressing their indignation against what they believe to be the implementation of “state fascism” in the current administration.
Anakbayan is known to be a comprehensive national democratic mass organization for the youth. Tackling different issues being faced nationwide, from social issues to political issues, the organization aims to mobilize the youth and push for a socialist structure in Philippine society.
On the protest
Around seven students participated in the demonstration last February 16, but an estimate of 30 policemen were present at the venue. Anakbayan – Vito Cruz spokesman Vinz Simon admitted that the overwhelming number of policemen present surprised those who participated in the protest. “It’s a surprise [since] we mean no harm and it’s just a political program. Loudspeakers? Sure. Loud? Sure. Violent? Not in the books,” he added.
Nina*, a member of Anakbayan – Vito Cruz, points out the hostility of the police force. “What we didn’t anticipate was the authorities’ almost hostile reaction towards holding protests there. The second protest that we held (February 22) there was still faced by an onslaught of policemen, even taking down the name of one of our members. In the previous venue, usually the policemen came after the protest itself, and even then, there’d only be one or two of them,” she explains.
Most of the chapter’s protests are typically held near the Vito Cruz LRT station near McDonald’s. This marks the first time that they held the event in a different area. “We decided this time around to mix things up a bit since we know there’s a lot of foot traffic here from La Salle going to the bars nearby, so we decided to hold it [in Agno],” explained Simon.
Nina* adds that because of Agno’s reputation to be a smoking area amongst Lasallians, a large number of students would be found around the vicinity.
When asked about how the authorities may have gotten wind of the protest, Simon also said that they had released posts on the chapter’s Facebook page regarding the schedule of this demonstration, as well as succeeding ones scheduled on February 22 and 23.
What are they fighting for?
Anakbayan addresses the same issues at every protest: the fight against neo-liberalization of education, annual tuition fee hikes of increasing percentages, the fascist practices of the government, a genuine agrarian reform, and providing due process to activists who face criminal charges despite their innocence.
Ultimately, the organization fights for the rights of the masses, and for a more systematic change. “We fight for the liberation of the marginalized sectors of the community by bringing awareness regarding the many oppressive and threatening actors in the Philippine society,” Nina* adds.
Despite having a small number of attendees and a large police force present, members of the Anakbayan – Vito Cruz chapter remained resolved to continue with their fight. “Well, if they were trying to intimidate us, it sure didn’t work since we were resolved to have our program,” Simon strongly affirms.
Nina* explains that Lasallians are estranged to the lower-middle class and lower class’ struggles in both the rural and urban setting, having been born in a comfortable setting. In addition, the students are not exposed to activism enough. Despite this, she encourages the Lasallian community to join the fight, regardless of what people say.
“You know that by pursuing activism, by mobilizing people into fighting for the same things that they are fighting for, whether it be the unjust death of a loved one or the accessibility to water resources, medical assistance, self-determination, you are also helping your fellow Filipino people,” Nina* concludes.
*Names were changed for anonymity.