An Anarchist and Autonomous Community-Based Resource Center in Muntinlupa City (Manila south), Philippines
Local Autonomous Network or LAN is a network of autonomous activists and anarchists that has multiple activities in relation to their various campaigns and initiatives. Most of the affiliated activists whether groups or collectives are active since 1990s which sustained activities such as skills and information sharing through independent publications, video and audio/music recording, workshops, forums and conferences. Urban gardening and application of solar generator system in households and art workshops are one among consistent interests of the activists that are being implemented, improved and shared to their immediate communities. LAN has hosts of network from Manila South to North and nearby provinces of Cavite and Bulacan (Sapang-Palay and Baliwag). During early processes of LANS’s formation autonomous activists from Davao and Leyte were present and actively participated the activities and discussions.
Since 2012, LAN became the venue of solidarity actions of autonomous activists and anarchists in response to social issues such as ecological destructions, hunger, poverty, war, marginalization and among others. LAN conducted actions in solidarity to Occupy movement; it also participated the anti-pork barrel campaign and anti-election protests actions through its distinct activities. It consistently conducts street actions against SONA while staging solidarity action against market institutions like G8.
Once again, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC summit held in the Philippines last November 18 – 19, 2015 in Manila. It is a multilateral trade agreement in Asia-Pacific region which composed of 21 member-countries including the Philippines. It’s main objective is economic cooperation to facilitate economic growth and development. As part of preparations, the government literally cleaned the area by displacing marginalized communities, homeless families and small vendors. Main roads in Manila were blocked that caused heavy traffic jam in other parts of metropolis and vicinities as far as Cavite. While APEC delegates were enjoying luxurious accommodations, people were braving the violence of congestion and stress caused by extremely heavy traffic jams.
Trade agreements like JPEPA (Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement) the WTO (World Trade Organisations), ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), ASEAN-China bilateral agreement; APEC is another instrument of neo-liberal project which the ultimate agenda is to eliminate all trade restrictions. This could mean free movements of products (agricultural and industrial), services, investments, labor which include trash, pollutants, toxic and access to natural resources.
Its adverse effects are: destruction of livelihoods of billions of small producers around the world. As we all know, livelihoods are not designed to compete in the market dominated and controlled by corporations. Privatization is one among great threats; corporations will control public facilities and services such as transportation, health and education, this would mean higher costs which will make social services less or not accessible to millions of people. More productive lands and mining sites will be opened-up and operated by private and foreign investors while fisheries resources will be subjected to more pressure and exploitation. In summary, these trade agreements will results to more massive ecological destruction, more poverty and hunger. Liberalization projects are mainly carried out by corporations backed by financial institutions like International Monetary Fund and World Bank reinforced by state institutions through elitist processes of democracy in Senate and Congress to be implemented by the executive branch armed with Arm forces and police.
On the 18th of November 2015, LAN once again carried-out series of activities which the objective is to send solidarity to all the oppressed and marginalized communities and families. The group peacefully gathered and set-up in Baclaran Church opposite of the “Manilabayan” camp –- a protest of Lumad community (indigenous community); they traveled from Mindanao to Manila to seek justice for killings, abuses and exploitation of their people. There were numbers of lumad have been killed due to multitude of issues of mining and insurgency.
Tarps and propaganda materials were installed while others prepared the area for “Really, Really Free Market” and some were busy preparing things for Food Not Bombs. Some activists initiated public discussions which the main topic is APEC. Nearby, an activist offered hair-cutting service patronize by lumads and city dwellers. One of the tarpaulins which were the biggest one is for the group’s solidarity to struggle of lumad and it calls for the ouster of all armed elements and mining corporations in the lumad territory. The whole process was full of fun and informative the public in general was responsive they participated free market and tasted congee and noodles served by the group. Many lumads came out of the camp and participated and witnessed the event.
Suddenly a group of people approached and demanded to stop the activities. They were agitated and demanded the immediate pull-out and insisted to remove particularly the tarpaulin dedicated for lumad. The two groups exchanges arguments for few minutes. A man who wore traditional outfit introduced himself as a tribal leader accused LAN as Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) element and ordered to remove the tarp. Another part of the group introduced him (a Redemptorist priest) and calmly asked the group to pack-up he said that it is a private property, it needs a permission to use the space. LAN discussed for 10 minutes then decided to pack-up and sent few delegates for a dialogue.
The dialogue was participated by LAN’s four-people delegates; a Lumad leader two priests, four people who did not introduced themselves and a church security officer. The dialogue went well, after brief introductions and leveling off the groups able to articulate their views and intentions. One of the LAN’s delegates insisted that anarchists’ supported Lumad struggle in recognition and respect to our indigenous roots. The indigenous communities in many parts of the archipelago are the remaining cultural connection to our ancestors and to our indigenous self. Before the colonials, we were not republicans nor Christians, our ancestors had their own identity – our indigenous cultures we inherited from our ancestors are sufficient to sustain the needs our communities and families without harming the ecology. In this context LAN demanded that remaining cultural communities should be left alone; corporations, state and insurgents should respect their right to live based on their self-determination.
LAN transferred to another part of the church and they were asked not to install the tarps for Lumad and Food Not Bombs. They were also asked not to use the mobile sound system. The autonomous activists insisted and maintained food not bombs tarp; they refrain using the microphone but the discussions continued.
As darkness falls, the group transferred right outside the church, that time the group put all their propaganda materials and continued serving food while facilitating chalk art for kids. Cultural presentations entertained the public and more spontaneous discussions took place, then after which the smaller groups were formed and the participants became more relax. From nowhere a man came and pulls out the tarpaulins and the anarchist flag hanging in the wall. Some participants intercepted the intruder and recovered the propaganda materials. At around 7PM the group agreed to end the activity and peacefully dispersed.