Invasion of the Human Smoke Stacks: A first hand account of the Asian Development Bank action

Feature story - November 9, 2005
A first-hand account of the Greenpeace action on the Asian Development Bank, where Greenpeace activists dressed as coal plant smokestacks block and picket the exit gate of the Asian Development Bank headquarters in Manila to protest the bank's 'financing climate change in Asia'.

Asian Development Bank guards donning anti-riot gear.

A Greenpeace volunteer carrying a 'clean energy now' banner

Greenpeace Regional Energy Campaigner Red Constantino leaves the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank in Manila after a dialogue with the bank's representatives.

Greenpeace activists dressed as coal plant smokestacks block and picket the exit gate of the Asian Development Bank headquarters in Manila to protest the bank's 'financing climate change in Asia'. Greenpeace says ADB's Energy Portfolio Financing for the region focuses on 'dirty energy' specifically coal. photograph©jose enrique soriano/Silverlens for Greenpeace

Manila,Philippines 8 November 2005--Greenpeace activists dressed as coal plant smokestacks block and picket the exit gate of the Asian Development Bank headquarters in Manila to protest the bank's 'financing climate change in Asia'. Greenpeace says ADB's Energy Portfolio Financing for the region focuses on 'dirty energy' specifically coal.

The San Miguel Avenue Gate of the Asian Development Bank, Greenpeace activists dressed as human smokestacks rushing towards the the ADB gate accompanied by others wearing orange 'Clean Energy Now' Shirts while there are some also who're carrying banners that read the same message as that on their t-shirts.

Greenpeace activists dressed as coal plant smokestacks block and picket the exit gate of the Asian Development Bank headquarters in Manila to protest the bank's 'financing climate change in Asia'.

Manila,Philippines 8 November 2005--Greenpeace activists dressed as coal plant smokestacks block and picket the exit gate of the Asian Development Bank headquarters in Manila to protest the bank's 'financing climate change in Asia'. Greenpeace says ADB's Energy Portfolio Financing for the region focuses on 'dirty energy' specifically coal.

8:00 AM After driving through Edsa which has been congested with the morning rush our traffic we safely arrive at the meeting place in where we'll be meeting with the media folks that'll be covering the action.

8:15-9:00 AM One by one the media folks start arriving greeting each other in their familliar banter and gestures.

9:15 AM It's exactly 9:15 in my writstwatch when we decided to go to the San Miguel Avenue Gate of the Asian Development Bank where we see a line of Greenpeace activists dressed as human smokestacks rushing towards the the ADB gate accompanied by others wearing orange 'Clean Energy Now' Shirts while there are some also who're carrying banners that read the same message as that on their t-shirts.

It was also around that time that security personel on the building engaged the activists inquiring of their presence in the bank's compound. It's quite interesting also to see how a dozen human smoke stacks change the seemingly busy landscape of the Ortigas financial district as traffic in front of the building comes to a sudden halt due to the action as well getting the attention of a number of pedestrians and the construction workers who're presently working inside the ADB compound all inquiring of the Greenpeace presence in the building perimeter. In response to the congested traffic several ADB traffic enforcers came and re-directed the traffic to ease its flow since the area is a very busy financial center.

Within a few minutes following the rush of the smoke stacks a number of security personel ask of their reason for being there, and it was immediately followed with Athena Ronquillo and Red Constantino's media statements

challenging the ADB to "put their money where their mouth is".

Following their statements a couple of police cars to support the security that are already present in the building's surroundings. Thankfully Greenpeace are disciplined and did are veterans of non-violent direct actions so there was no tension between the activists and the police and security personel around the building.

While all this was happening Red and Athena were giving interviews to the media people that are present in the action. In the background, Beau Baconguis and Jasper Inventor are busy in doing their job as negotiators.

9:30 AM Soon they were met by ADB personel and were invited to go inside the building for further talks on the issues addressed by Greenpeace. So as they were entering I along with other media people rushed towards the gate to take a shot of Red and Athena as they enter the building. As I was looking at a good angle to take pictures of them inside the ADB building my attention was caught by a small phalanx of ADB guards donning anti-riot gear.

In a while some other folks from the ADB invited several media personel to join them in their dialogue. The sunlight was really astounding and pretty soon all of us are drenched in our own sweat good thing though there was one volunteer that started distributing bottled water to the activists and press alike. While waiting for news from the inside I decided to go across the street near the area where our legal team is on standby, so there I sat on a gutter shaded by a parked police car and finished my drink in a single gulp.

After finishing my I again rushed back to the scene where I got a chance to talk to Philip Ball a Rainbow Warrior crew who volunteered for the action he explained to me the role of the ADB in climate change in Asia. Remembering how hot the day was I fondly asked him what he thinks of the weather, and I was amazed to hear him say that it was nice, and that compared to his home country of New Zealand this is basically nothing. Later on I noticed another vehicle park near the ADB compound apparently carrying, a SWAT-team.

9:55 AM I also got the chance to chat with Eboy who looks very much exhausted since he's been standing there with his 'Clean Energy Now' banner, and according to him he really doesn't mind it and like he said the cause was worth it. Later on I also decided to talk with Tomas another volunteer, he said that the very fact that Red and Athena got to enter the ADB compound for discussion is a good sign that the ADB people are open to talk about the issues addressed by Greenpeace and that he's certain that no trouble would come out of the discussion. As I was about to conclude my interview with Tomas, I saw Red and Athena exit the compound smiling simultaneously the human smoke stacks exited the ADB perimeter ending today's action peacefully.

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