Paradigm shift for National Survival
– now or never for the Philippines
( Joint Statement of the Freedom from Debt Coalition ( FDC ) and the Philippine Movement for Climate Change ( PMCJ ) to the ADB Consultation with Civil Society on Strategy 2020 Midterm Review ,
December 9, 2013, at the ADB Building, Ortigas Business District )
The Asian Development Bank’s Strategy 2020 is a business-as-usual strategy for the Philippines. A Midterm Review that will only adjust in pace, scale and targets this Strategy will not mean anything significant in terms of wiping out poverty and unemployment, making the Philippines a prosperous contributor to regional development and enabling it to survive the onslaughts of climate change. With critical challenges coming from the global and regional scene and extreme ones from nature, the outcome may even be worse.
Inclusive growth without altering the high inequality in control and management of land, capital, technology and knowledge resources may only result at best in lessening the vast number of the unemployed and underemployed, reducing the scale of school dropouts at the basic levels and increasing the very limited number of young people who will get tertiary education, and improving the chances of the bottom poor, the lowest layers of the poor population to climb upward to join the rest of the poor.
This is the bitter lesson of the Philippine development experience of the past several decades. Having pursued a growth strategy that is anchored on the private sector- privatization, external markets and liberalizing its markets, and debts- the same features of ADB’s Strategy 2020, the Philippines continues to suffer one lost decade after another since the eighties of the previous century with jobless growth, high social and gender inequality, resilient poverty and the appearance of a basement poor, disappearance of many industries and agricultural stagnation, forced migration of the skilled and enterprising, and environmental degradation that worsens with climate change. The Philippines remains an economic laggard in the region with its agriculture and industry highly unprepared for the coming ASEAN regional integration in 2015.
After the Yolanda ( Haiyan ) devastation, the representatives of developing countries and many scientists and experts in the recently concluded 19thConference of Parties Meeting in Warsaw, Poland came out stronger than before in their resolve to push for a new order of the day – to radically veer away from the business as usual track and move towards a more ambitious and radical actions on emissions, adaptation, loss and damage, climate finance and technology transfer. More lives will be lost if the world does not act now.For the Philippines, at stake is national survival.
The ADB has continued its dirty energy funding history until today and will still pursue it under its new strategy. Even with the much publicized Clean Energy Program of the ADB, the Bank will still continue funding fossil fuel projects, which are heavy on coal and gas. In the Philippines alone, the ADB funded a total of 11 coal plants, most of which have been tested as emitting off the charts levels of mercury, arsenic and lead emissions that endanger the host communities and environments, aside from their millions of tons of carbon dioxide contributions.
The negative impacts of the recent ADB co-financed project with the KEXIM Bank, despite claims of using clean coal technology, otherwise known as circulating fluidized bed combustion technology he negative impacts are there for people to see and experience. The coal plant emits four times coal ashes compared to conventional coal plants. Also, according to official local health records, incidents of upper respiratory diseases and cancer have risen for the past two years since the inception of the coal plant.
Nothing less than a PARADIGM SHIFT in development is what the Philippines needs. A PARADIGM SHIFT now, today, not next week, not next year, let alone the next few years.
The Philippines must put disaster preparation and rehabilitation squarely and solidly within the context of adaptation and mitigation to overcome climate change. This should mean reshaping and upgrading our human settlements to make them defensible to assaults of floods, storm surges and landslides. This should mean a shift to sustainable farming and rural production systems to make agriculture and rural industry resilient to drought, typhoons, soil erosion, mineral depletion and chemical damage and river and water pollution. This should mean a shift to renewable energy to supply power to our industry, agriculture and services and to our households. This should mean redesigning and retooling our industries to make them produce more and efficiently but with reduced carbon emissions and without pollutants to our water systems.
The Philippines will need huge finances and resources here. Not from loans as the ADB and the World Bank have been quick to commit to our government. Unconditional grants, maybe, but not loans that will commit even the children and the young people whose families have lost everything, many even their parents and siblings along with with a heavily debt- burdened nation to pay in the next years to come. Our faith-based movements call this IMMORAL DEBTS.
Why loans when the Philippines has huge money that is owed itin the first place.That the Pilippinesmust claim apart from the money and resources that it can
generate on its own by reordering its economy and public finance. The Philippines must press harder along with the global climate justice movements and allied countries and governments for reparations from the super-rich capitalist countries which for centuries have damaged most the earth’s climate and natural resources. We must intensify our pressures on these governments, especially the US government, to comply with the United Nations principles and protocols on “common but differentiated responsibility“ for fighting climate change. JUSTICE DEMANDS DEBT CANCELLATION . CLIMATE JUSTICE CALLS FOR CLIMATE REPARATIONS .
The Philippines can also help raise the huge finances by abolishing all pork barrel – congressional, presidential and local, and rechanneling them to the pressing priorities of our times, including climate resiliency. This has to go side by side with instituting all measures to make the public finance system invulnerable as much as possible to corruption and waste. All those who stole public money must be held accountable and brought to justice and their their ill-gotten wealth recovered.
Governance for national survival needs the total mobilization and support of all our people. It cannot be done without redressing the poverty and the inequality that bedevil the lives of the great majority. A program for rebuilding our national economy to revive our industry and agriculture , make them serve along with services domestic needs first, correct inequalities, attain sustainability and cope up with climate change is central to national survival.
For the Philippines, this Paradigm shift is now or never.
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