MANILA (Mabuhay) – With the crowd starting to dwindle in Hong Kong’s Mong Kok area amid fears of a police crackdown, Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello on Sunday challenged protesters to develop a strategy to ensure the sustainability of the pro-democracy movement.
Bello, a vocal critic of China, said keeping protesters on the streets beyond one week is vital to the continuity of the mass action in Hong Kong, which has been dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution.”
“Malaking hamon sa kanila (protesters) paano masu-sustain ito. Napakarami nila rito pero next week ba, ganito pa rin ang crowd? Ang malaking leksyon mula sa anti-globalization movement at sa Occupy movement doon sa US at Europe ay kailangan mong ma-translate ‘yung spontaneous people power to organized people power,” he said.
The Occupy movement is a global protest against economic and social inequality. It gained widespread media attention in 2011 after throngs of demonstrators camped at New York’s Zuccoti Park, located in New York’s Wall Street financial hub.
Bello, chair of the House committee on overseas workers affairs , spoke to a gathering of protesters in Connaught Road to encourage them to stand their ground despite a government-imposed deadline for them to clear Hong Kong’s barricaded streets.
He said the pro-democracy protest was reminiscent of the 1986 People Power revolution in the Philippines, which led to the ouster of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The party-list lawmaker flew to Hong Kong Saturday to meet with the Philippine Consul General and Labor Attache to discuss situation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the city. Bello also met various OFW groups and held a dialogue with the Hong Kong Confederation of Labor (HKCTU), one of the main organizers of the mass action.
Protesters have begun leaving Mong Kok area Sunday as fears of a clash with authorities mount following a call from city leaders for the streets to be cleared so businesses, schools and government offices could resume their operations.
Based on Reuters reporters’ estimate, 4,000 protesters had gathered in Admiralty, the main area they have occupied over the past week at the heart of the government district by late Sunday evening. It was relatively smaller than the previous day’s crowd.
Protests have erupted in Hong Kong beginning September 28 after China announced in August that it will only allow candidates vetted by Beijing to participate in the city’s elections in 2017.
The umbrella has emerged as a symbol of the mass action as protesters hide behind them for protection against the tear gas and pepper spray used by the police. (MNS)