PHILIPPINES: ASEAN integration not for small and poor farmers

Sunday 26 October 2014

Date: 23 October 2014

Source: Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

Type: News

Keywords: ASEAN Economic Integration

Quezon City, Philippines – Farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, scientists, legislators, students and other peasant advocates have gathered in a forum on “ASEAN Integration and Its Impacts on Agriculture and Rural Development in the Philippines” last 17 October 2014 held in Balai Kalinaw, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines. Eighty seven (87) individuals from 19 organizations attended the forum that aims to analyze the impacts of Asean integration among poor, small-scale farmers and unite other sectors for a genuine agricultural development and national industrialization.

The forum was opened by Myrna Azor, a farmer-leader from MASIPAG (Farmers and Scientist Partnership for Development) in Luzon who encouraged the participants to learn and share the information from the forum towards serving the rural poor.

This was followed by the input from main speaker, Paul Quintos from IBON International who gave a historical background on the role of ASEAN and the US and other capitalist countries’ interest to it. He also noted ASEAN as the beacon of globalization in the post-cold war era. “ASEAN Integration is not for the people of ASEAN but for monopoly capitalists from outside ASEAN and their partners in the region,” Quintos explained. He also added that the integration will only serve to strengthen these capitalist countries’ control over raw materials, labor and supply chains in the region.

The presentation was enriched more with reactions from the sectors. “By using and improving our own traditional rice varieties, we resist the agricultural transnational corporations who have been monopolizing and controlling seed,” said Cristino Panerio, MASIPAG Coordinator for Luzon. Panerio further stated that aside from the technical skills that farmers learn, they should also organize themselves and defend their rights especially with the threat of ASEAN Integration to the sector.

The next reactor is Rafael Mariano, Chairperson of KMP (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines). “The integration will not just worsen the state of the country’s agriculture, but mostly the lives of the small and poor farmers in the countryside,” he said. He also explained how the state of agriculture worsened when the Philippine government entered the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)-World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, which facilitated further agricultural liberalization. “Even back in 1994, we have firmly stated that the GATT-WTO will become ‘GATT-tilyo ng Kamatayan’ (Trigger for Death) for the Filipino farmers.”

Representative of Anakpawis Partylist and Chairperson of Pamalakaya (National Federation of Smallfisherfolk Organizations of the Philippines), Fernando Hicap, also gave a situationer of the fisherfolk and fisheries sector in the Philippines. He expressed how situations of small-scale fisherfolk will be worsened if the Philippines will enter another liberalization policy such as the plans in ASEAN Integration.

Lastly, a representative from the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples (TFIP), Tyrone Beyer explained how mining and other extractive industries destroys their ancestral domain and environment. This will be worsened if more foreign corporations are allowed to conduct such practices and moreover, if granted 100% ownership of the lands in the Philippines through the ASEAN Integration.

The forum was concluded with a closing remark from Professor Marion Tan of the University of the Philippines-College of Social Work and Community Development (UP-CSWCD) and a board member of MASIPAG. She remarked that indeed, ASEAN Integration is not beneficial to the people but instead will integrate the region’s natural and labor resources to serve the interest of the capitalist countries, especially the US. “Asean integration is not beneficial for the people especially rural women,” said Prof. Tan. She further emphasized the importance of strengthening the movement against such imperialist aggression.

The activity was co-sponsored by MASIPAG (Farmer-Scientist Partnership for Development) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) together with the Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes (PNFSP), Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT) and IBON International. ###

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