CPA and Indigenous Peoples to join APEC protest in Manila

October 30, 2015

On November 18-19, 2015, the Annual Asia Pacific Economic Leaders Meeting will be held in Manila. This Ministerial Meeting will be the second time that Philippines to host since 1996. As a last showcase before election and end to his term, the Aquino Regime will use this APEC Meeting as a platform to boast his so-called economic growth and further put the country under the dictate of big capitalist countries such as the US, China and Japan.

For nearly two decades, the Philippines is portrayed as the poster child of this neoliberal globalization-driven era of development, prosperity and progress. The Aquino administration is happy to promote this fantasy with relatively rapid GDP growth being its most consistent propaganda peg to claim political legitimacy amid all the controversies surrounding it. It is also quite willing to spend for the illusion.

IBON Foundation revealed that the government will spend Php4.6 billion on its hosting of APEC this year which is almost as much as the entire Php4.8 billion international commitments fund budget last year (the budget item that APEC is charged to). This does not even include other budgets for improving airports, roads and tourism sites in and around APEC venues.

Peoples Caravan Against Imperialist Globalization II (PCAIG II)

Parallel to the APEC Meeting will be a massive people’s protest in Manila. Thousands will converge to the Philippine Capital to debunk the so-called economic growth and to highlight the underdevelopment of the country caused by imperialist globalization thru APEC. Bayan or the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan is organizing the Peoples Caravan Against Imperialist Globalization (PCAIG) as a broad network of different organizations, institutions and sectors against imperialist globalization. PCAIG will organize different activities such as workshops, conferences, fora, protest caravans, vigils and other activities to show their protest against APEC and the imperialist plunder and war.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and representatives of indigenous peoples all over the country will join the PCAIG to bring the issues and demands of the Cordillera people and indigenous peoples during the APEC meeting. CPA will speak and testify on the adverse effects of neoliberal economic policies especially on mining, energy, and agriculture; plunder and militarization and state terrorism as concrete impacts of APEC in the region. Since the liberalization of the mining industry thru the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, it opened the whole region for mining plunder from different mining companies. The law also strengthened the hold of mining companies to their claims over thousands of hectares within the ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples.

Mining industry in the region has been destructive and causing mining related disasters in areas where there are large scale mining operation. Case in point is the land subsidence happened in Virac, Itogon, Benguet because of long history of underground mining by Benguet Corporation since 1903. Another case is the tailings dam spill of Philex Mining Corporation in 2012 of more than 20 million metric tons of mine wastes. The spill severely affected river systems such as the Balog Creek and the Agno River which are the lifeline of farmers in Itogon and all communities along the Agno.

Another sector hardly hit by globalization is agriculture. Aside from mining, the Philippine government liberalized agriculture. The promise of fair competition is nowhere to be found. But for nearly two decades of APEC, the poor Filipino carabao cannot compete with highly mechanised and subsidized agriculture of advanced countries. In the region, we see the effects of liberalized agriculture with the flooding of imported rice and vegetables in the market. Local farmers are always at the losing end and our local agriculture is further tied to imperialist control.

With the push of globalization, aside from APEC, the Philippine government also entered into other numerous economic agreements like the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade - World Trade Organization and the Asean Free Trade Agreement. This is not to say that the new unequal mega-deals on the horizon like the Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific and, looming larger, the China-centered Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the US-centered Trans-Pacific Partnership are not going to introduce anything drastic. On the contrary, the TPP for instance is unprecedented in its breadth and intrusiveness in national economies beyond the accustomed trade and investment liberalization free trade deals so far. Among others it meddles in government enterprises and seeks to give foreign corporations rights that override the breadth of government regulatory powers. This is aside from the strident defense of monopolies on technology and so-called intellectual property. Globalization is also one of the primary reasons on the fast and disintegrating socio-political and the ways of life of indigenous peoples. Globalization promotes and pushes for the commodification and commercialization of indigenous cultures, practices, traditional knowledge and beliefs.

Out of APEC

Since its establishment, APEC is hyped as an economic cooperation to boost trade and commerce among its member states. But for nearly two decades, the neoliberal economic policies of APEC further plunged the economy to maldevelopment and people to misery.. The promise of economic development for the country is only a fallacy. APEC agreements blindly followed by the government intensified the violation of indigenous peoples rights to their ancestral lands, free prior and informed consent, self-determination and resulted in militarization of indigenous communities, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, political vilification and other human rights violations; plunder of ancestral domains and environmental destruction that worsens climate change and disasters.

We demand that the Philippine government should listen to its people and get out from APEC and other unequal economic cooperation and imperialist impositions that only perpetuate the unjust, unfair and one-sided economic order imposed by capitalist countries and further violations of the collective rights of indigenous peoples in particular.***

For reference:

Windel Bolinget