June 5th, 2020
The following call reached me via Bas Umali, author of the upcoming PM Press book Pangayaw and Decolonizing Resistance: Anarchism in the Philippines.
Homelessness and hunger are prevalent in many countries. People begging for food and malnourished children are common images in many places around the world that used to have healthy communities and ecology. While people are enduring poverty and hunger, governments – particularly in the first world – are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to develop war materials they use to control other countries through war, intimidation and manipulation.
Food Not Bombs (FNB) is a solidarity and non-violent action movement against social injustice. Food-sharing is a practical response to hunger caused by inequality, where huge numbers of people are deprived of access to protein while the elite lives extravagantly and uses social patrimony for state activities involving violence and oppression of people and ecological destruction. People from punk/hardcore, DIY, and art communities as well as anarchists who are involved in the culture of sharing and inclined to horizontal practices are naturally attracted to FNB.
Many marginalized communities in the so-called Philippine archipelago are enduring the lack of basic necessities such as shelter, food, water, education and economic security. The acute inequality and social justice rob people of opportunities to improve their well-being and to secure the future of their families and communities.
FNB came to the archipelago during the 1990s as a response to systemic poverty. It quickly spread, particularly after the famous Battle in Seattle: the resistance against trade liberalization during the World Trade Organization Conference. During this period, anarchist collectives and individuals sprouted like mushrooms, thriving in fertile underground culture scenes and art communities.
FNB initiatives in the archipelago operate in autonomous fashion in different locations in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. Some are in constant connection with each other and many regularly conduct activities such as the sharing of food, information, skills and struggle.
FNB is not a monotonous activity of food provision to hungry people. It is a creative resistance designed to provide not only protein but also to engage in sharing critical information and skills through workshops, discussions, dialogue, cultural presentations and other educational activities. FNB activities are frequently combined with “really, really free markets”, where people are encouraged to share their unwanted things to those in need.
The activities are not about recruiting people to a particular group but to encourage people to self-organize based on voluntary action and according to their own capacities. FNB encourages communities to practice self-management under the themes of respect, diversity, decentralization and non-hierarchical relationships. FNB means direct action against capitalism, consumerism and statism. FNB is not an organization but a set of activities that can be organized by anyone without asking permission or requiring affiliation with any particular group. Anyone can organize FNB activities anytime and anywhere, based on the local context and as long as the activities uphold the basic principles of non-hierarchical, respectful, ecological and anti-authoritarian conduct.
President Duterte has already been violent before the Anti-Terrorism Act. His humorous, extemporaneous speeches with twists of sexism cannot conceive his thirst for violence. On several occasions, he has explicitly mentioned his personal involvement in killings. Duterte is a megalomaniac who desires power and hates those who threaten his position. He is vengeful and angry. His words are not empty. He doesn’t discriminate in the retaliation against his “enemies”: “low-life thugs”, teachers, laborers, overseas workers, senators, lawyers and even the corporate media and international institutions are not spared from intimidation and harassment. Incarceration of opposition politicians and killings perpetrated by uniformed personnel as well as masked motor-riding gunmen are the trademarks of his government.
Duterte’s appetite for violence has killed FNB volunteers and incarcerated at least one. These non-violent activists have perished and suffered during the “war on drugs” that killed more than 12,000 people, the great majority coming from poor families and marginalized communities. Essentially, the war on drugs program is a war against the poor, intended to intimidate people and all forms of opposition.
The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 will surely exacerbate the already bad situation of our society. The Duterte administration shrewdly fast-tracked the law in the middle of a pandemic crisis. A perfect timing, where people in opposition are rendered immobile and have no chance to react. The act has been approved at the committee level and members of the House of Representatives are expected to debate and fast-track its approval before they go on a two-month break starting in early June.
The act will categorize the activities and initiatives of FNB volunteers, autonomous activists and anarchists as terrorism. Under the new laws, solidarity actions which these people commonly conduct will be considered as crimes, allowing the state to detain suspected individuals without a warrant, to extend periods of detentions without a charge and to give the executive branch more power against dissent. The Anti-Terrorism Act overrides the Human Security Act and removes government obligations to compensate wrongly accused people.
The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is an obvious instrument of fascism, used to curtail freedoms and to instill fear among the population in order to serve the interests of the oligarchs and their foreign counterparts.
Food Not Bombs volunteers, autonomous activists, independent artists and anarchists strongly condemn the fascist government! We are calling on international resistance movements to express solidarity with the struggle of different people and communities of the archipelago against the authoritarians who serve the interests of privileged elite.
If possible, you may organize different forms of actions against the embassy of the Philippines in your country in order to send your support to our fight for freedom.
Fight for social justice! Fight fascism and state-sponsored terrorism! End war, poverty, hunger and ecological slaughter!
– FOOD NOT BOMBS ARCHIPELAGO
(Posted June 5, 2020)
Gabriel Kuhn is an author, translator, and union activist. He has published widely in English and German. His texts have been translated into more than a dozen languages.