Tag Archives: Asian Development Bank

[People] The human face of Philippine poverty. By Fr. Shay Cullen

The human face of Philippine poverty
By Fr. Shay Cullen

Reggie is the human face of poverty in the Philippines. He and his family lived on the edge of total poverty until typhoon Haiyan pushed him and his family into absolute poverty this November 2013. He is a 17 year-old jobless youth whose home was taken away by the 245 kilometer per hour wind. Then, his dignity was taken away by human traffickers who forced him and six other youth from Cebu into unpaid labor on a fishing boat and then abandoned them hungry and unpaid. Then he sunk into even greater poverty when his freedom and human rights were taken from him by the authorities when they jailed him for being a vagrant. He was rescued from illegal imprisonment recently.

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But the one image that haunts me is that of Edgar. One of the poorest of the poor and typical of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos is Edgar, a street boy, skinny, emaciated skeletal, the human no one wants to look at. He was found wounded on the street. He had in his possession one pair of shorts to cover his otherwise naked body. He had nothing else in this world. A reality so shocking where the obese are more numerous than the 1.2 billion poor that live on less than US$2 a day.

The Philippines, with its towering condominiums, wealth and opulence of the ruling elite is the poorest nation of Asia for its population size. It is the one country that has not made progress in reducing poverty unlike other Asian countries despite economic growth that only benefits the rich.

There are 29 million Filipinos living below the poverty line based on figures released by the government statistics office. The population is more or less 105 million and 27.9 percent in 2013 are living below the poverty line. This is almost the same as it was four to seven years ago. Walden Bello in his writings Afterthoughts says that the rest of the world has made great improvement since 2005 to 2008 in reducing poverty as the World Bank declared, “The progress is so drastic that the world has met the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half, five years before its 2015 deadline.”

The Philippines has not made any such strides and the roots of poverty are found in the concentration of economic and fiscal power in the hands of a few powerful families. Debt is a tool of control. Getting poor countries into debt was a deliberate policy by rich nations to have economic and political influence over developing nations by ensnaring them in webs of foreign debt administered by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Other developing nations began to resist the power and control that the developed nations exercised over them by the chains of debt.

The worldwide campaign to cancel debt succeeded in exposing this tactic and nations refused to pay or had it restructured and changed economic policy for one that gave real freedom and growth that favoured the poor. But the Philippine elite, forever subservient, made debt servicing their obedient obligation. This slavery to the debt masters consumes as much as twenty five percent of the national budget leaving little for other investments in infrastructure and rural development where the majority of the poor live.

The Philippines has remained enmeshed in the debt trap and makes no effort to throw it off. The Philippine government and their backers are clinging to an economic ideology that allows multinationals to exploit the economy and natural resources and makes them all richer and the rest of the nation poorer. The Philippine Congress passed mining laws for example, that gave the international mining corporations unprecedented privileges that many claim are unconstitutional. They destroy the environment with open pit excavations, cut forests causing landslides and disasters and entire villages and communities are uprooted and driven into poverty. Last week, truck loads of fresh cut forest logs came from Tangub, in Northern Mindanao heading for Molave. More evidence of this very corrupt practice going on in public view.

The poor are driven from the impoverished countryside to urban slums where their children, some as young as 13 years old end up in the sex trade exploited by local and foreign sex tourists with government leaders allowing it and profiting from the outrage. Tourism is more fun in the Philippines, they say.

Poverty is allowed to grow by the greed of the dynastic families that hold a monopoly of political power backed by the military. They passed laws that allowed members of Congress to have huge lump sums of money from the national treasury for their so-called projects in their constituencies. However, most of it was siphoned off into their private accounts through fake projects. The scandal has dominated the headlines for months as one sordid revelation of corruption at the highest levels follows another.

Meanwhile, in a desperate effort to meet the UN millennium goals to reduce poverty, the government has been implementing the Conditional Cash Transfer Program. This hand out project, despite its shortcomings, is helping to prevent poor urban families from falling into abject poverty. It’s a temporary life jacket to keep them afloat in an ocean of deprivation and hunger. What is needed is a pro-poor economic policy change that will put job creation for the poor and land distribution (with support), at the center of economic policy.

This will help create a strong lower and middle class with spending power that will, in turn, create more employment. The wealth will be distributed instead of concentrating among a few at the top. The Philippines will remain among the most backward and poorest of nations unless there’s a dedicated pro-poor government in power and that is not likely in the foreseeable future.

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[Press Release] Asian Development Bank: Reconsider Uzbekistan Project-Proposed Project Fails to Address Forced, Child Labor- HRW

Asian Development Bank: Reconsider Uzbekistan Project
Proposed Project Fails to Address Forced, Child Labor

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(Manila, September 11, 2013) – The Asian Development Bank should not proceed with its Uzbekistan irrigation project until grave human rights concerns including forced labor are adequately addressed, Human Rights Watch and the Cotton Campaign said in a letter to the bank’s president released today.

The bank’s board of directors is imminently scheduled to consider the project. The project will benefit the cotton sector, which relies on forced labor, including forced child labor.

“The Asian Development Bank has an important role to play in funding development in Uzbekistan, but it shouldn’t be supporting a system that uses forced labor,” said Jessica Evans, senior advocate for international financial institutions at Human Rights Watch. “The Bank has closed its eyes to the fact that its irrigation project would bolster a cotton-growing system that routinely violates the rights of the people forced to pick the cotton.”

During the 2012 harvest the Uzbek government forced over a million of its own citizens – children and adults – to harvest cotton in abusive conditions under threat of punishment. Regional authorities, police, and school administrators, reporting to the prime minister and other cabinet ministers, transported busloads of children and adults to the country’s cotton fields, where those far from their homes were assigned temporary housing. The workers picked cotton for weeks at a time and were not free to leave. Mobilization is currently under way for the 2013 harvest.

The workers lived in unsanitary conditions, worked from early morning until evening for little or no pay, and some suffered serious injuries and illnesses. Children and youth missed school and college. Adults and older children were required to harvest a minimum of 60 kilograms (or 132 pounds) per day, with younger children required to meet slightly lower quotas.

The Asian Development Bank has made a commitment not to fund activities involving harmful or exploitative forms of forced labor or child labor and to work toward the “elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor.” But the bank has limited its consideration of labor risks related to this project to water sector employees. That restriction is grossly inappropriate, given the known violations of labor rights in cotton production, the economic activity that most benefits from this project, Human Rights Watch and the Cotton Campaign said.

Further, the Uzbek government officials who are responsible for directing the forced labor of children and adults during the cotton harvest also control the irrigation system in the bank’s project area. Worse still, the bank has tapped these same officials to play a key role in the project grievance redress mechanism.

In addition to relying on forced labor, the tightly controlled, highly centralized structure of the cotton sector in Uzbekistan undermines farmers’ incomes. That is contrary to the bank’s commitments for sustainable economic growth that is inclusive and helps the country’s poor, Human Rights Watch and the Cotton Campaign said.

“Uzbek cotton farmers are forced to meet state-established cotton quotas, purchase inputs from one state-owned enterprise, and sell the cotton to a state-owned enterprise at artificially low prices,” said Matthew Fischer-Daly, coordinator at Cotton Campaign, a coalition of human rights, labor, investor, and business organizations dedicated to ending forced labor in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan. “The system traps farmers in poverty, and the state profits from high-priced sales to global buyers.”

On June 11, 2013, the tripartite Committee on the Application of Standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) cited evidence of the “systematic mobilization” of adults and children to pick cotton during Uzbekistan’s 2012 cotton harvest “as well as the substantial negative impact of this practice on the health and education of school-aged children obliged to participate in the cotton harvest.” The committee reiterated its call to Uzbek authorities to invite a high-level ILO observer mission to monitor during the current 2013 harvest.

Also in June, the United States government downgraded Uzbekistan to the lowest category in its human trafficking ranking because of the Uzbek government’s use of forced and child labor.

The current repressive climate for independent civil society organizations in Uzbekistan presents a significant barrier to civic participation and meaningful consultation with those affected by the project. Authorities regularly threaten, imprison, and torture rights defenders and civil society activists, and block international rights groups and media outlets from operating in Uzbekistan. Numerous human rights defenders, independent journalists, and opposition activists are in prison in Uzbekistan in retaliation for their work or criticism of the government.

In September 2012, during the peak of the previous cotton harvest, authorities arrested Uktam Pardaev, a rights activist well known for reporting on police abuses, torture, and forced labor. Pardaev was beaten by several officers during the initial arrest and then held for over 15 days on minor administrative charges of “hooliganism” and “resisting arrest.” Pardaev and other observers believe he was arrested to prevent him from monitoring the use of forced labor of children and adults during the annual harvest.

Human Rights Watch and the Cotton Campaign Recommend that the Asian Development Bank:

Refrain from approving the Modernization and Improved Performance of the Amu Bukhara Irrigation System (ABIS) project until human rights concerns including forced labor and child labor are addressed.
Raise with the Uzbek government, both publicly and privately, concerns about forced labor and other ongoing serious human rights violations in the country, including through the bank’s country strategy for Uzbekistan, and work with the government to address these concerns.
In recognition of the importance of civic participation and social accountability for development, urge the Uzbek government to amend its restrictive laws and practices governing operation of nongovernmental groups to bring them into line with the international human rights standards regarding freedom of association, expression, speech, and assembly.

“The Asian Development Bank has a responsibility to ensure it doesn’t fund projects that violate human rights,” Evans said. “It has not lived up to this responsibility in its proposed Uzbekistan project.”

To read Human Rights Watch’s recent report, “Abuse-Free Development: How the World Bank Should Safeguard Against Human Rights Violations,” please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/node/117248

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on forced labor of children and adults in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/01/25/uzbekistan-forced-labor-widespread-cotton-harvest

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Uzbekistan, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/europecentral-asia/uzbekistan

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on international financial institutions, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/topic/business/world-bank-imf

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[Statement] ADB, enough of your failures and pretensions get out of climate, get out of power-PMCJ

ADB, enough of your failures and pretensions
get out of climate, get out of power

photo PMCJ

pmcj logo

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) demand that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) stop messing up with the climate and energy agenda and programs in the Philippines. It must cease pretending it is an institution working to abate the impacts of climate change. It must desist from any further interference in the energy sector of the country in the wake of the miserable failure of the power privatization scheme which it pushed the Philippine government to undertake.

PMCJ and FDC are once again making this call in view of the on-going ADB –sponsored Asia Clean Energy Forum here in Manila. Attending this Forum will be ADB top honchos, energy officials from many Asian countries, and top corporate representatives with a smattering of civil society representatives serving as decorations.

PMCJ and FDC view the gathering as a high profile public relations stunt to deodorize ADB’s intensive investment and promotion of dirty energy and privatization of energy and power sectors.

A Dirty Energy Legacy

From 1969 to 2010 ADB used US$ 8.7B in financing different fossil fuel projects, a big chunk of which was used in building coal-fired and gas-fired power plants. In June 2009, ADB approved its Energy policy for that year, its third major energy policy document that aimed to give ”secure and clean energy” for Asia. But this was mere rhetoric because just after this document was approved a total of US$1.5 billion worth of fossil fuel projects was also approved. This clearly shows the inconsistencies in its pronounced goals and obvious financing of dirty and harmful energy.

Mountains of available data belie the Bank’s claim, and its 2008 to 2012 “clean energy showcase” clearly exposes the sham. In 2008, at the start of its clean energy investments included 33% going to coal and large hydro projects. $100 million of the total $650 million that went to the construction of the 4000MW Tata Mudra Ultra Mega Power Project (coal plant) in India and the refurbishment of the 600MW coal plant in Masinloc, Zambales in the Philippines were tagged as clean investments.

In 2010 its “clean energy” investments amounted to US$ 1.7B of which US$233.2M was devoted to construction of gas-fired plants in China, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. In 2011, of the US$2.1B total “clean energy” investments, US$465.1M was allocated to the construction of 2 large hydroelectric dams in Laos, while US$115M went to the construction of 1600MW and 750MW gas-fired power plants in Thailand and Vietnam, respectively. In 2012, out of US$2.35B of “clean energy” fund, US$400M went to the construction of 2 waste-to-energy facilities in China and US$107.29M to a gas-fired plant in Thailand.

In fact, in a recent 2012 study the World Resource Institute (WRI) the ADB ranked number three amongst the top International Financial Institution (IFI) funders of coal in the world with a total funding of US3.9 billion for 21 coal plants across Asia.

Its track record clearly speaks for itself, ADB as a promoter of dirty and harmful energy.

ADB’s Power Privatization: A Big Failure, A Showcase of Corporate Greed

The ADB is also responsible for engineering the current power crisis caused by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), and which after 12 years since its enactment has resulted in the Philippines having the most expensive residential electricity rates and second highest industrial electricity rates in Asia. The EPIRA has not done anything to lower electricity rates; instead, it has removed the ownership, management and control of government as it allowed the privatization of the government’s power assets to a few big monopolies whose only intention in acquiring such properties is profit. And while EPIRA vests a lot of responsibilities on the Energy Regulatory Commission to protect consumers, the ERC has failed miserably in this task.

ADB’ so-called power sector reforms and privatization program are not about providing access to all, especially the poor nor are these about making power rates more affordable for the poor and the general public. The Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) which is the heart of the privatization and restructuring program financed by the ADB, which is expected to provide lower rates has virtually become a mechanism of price manipulation. It would seem that the problems we face today are results of the so-called solutions pushed by ADB in the past.

ADB’s Coal Trail in the Philippines

PMCJ and FDC also emphasized that the ADB has a clear hand in dirty and harmful energy projects in the Philippines.

The coal-fired power plant in Naga, Cebu which was strongly opposed by the people due to its hazardous effects on the health of the host community, was heralded by the ADB as a “clean energy” project for its adherence to the use of circulating fluidized bed technology. It was later found to have produced four times more coal ash than a conventional coal-fired power plant. Municipal health records show an increase in morbidity and mortality rates in the area. The project is also a clear depiction of ADB’s funding of dirty and harmful source of energy and its privatization policies at work.

The acquisition and rehabilitation of the Masinloc coal-fired power plant received US$490.400 in ADB assistance and this plant annually releases 3,766,177 mt of carbon dioxide (CO2). Add to that the US$210,000 ADB loan for the privatization and refurbishment of the Calaca coal-fired power plant which annually releases 3,850,841mt of CO2. With climate change a scientifically and globally accepted truth it is dismaying that the ADB continues to support and fund projects which will hasten climate change and put the lives of people at risk.

PMCJ and FDC both maintain that these three projects are pursued not in the interest of providing accessible power and electricity to nearby communities, rather it is in compliance with the demand of industries located in economic zones within the areas, and with the powers that be in the power sector in pursuit of big bucks.

Now we ask how on earth an institution like the ADB, with its dirty track record of financing dirty and harmful energy projects and credit-pushing electricity reforms hostile to people and communities, can openly proclaim itself as an institution working and advocating for true clean, accessible and affordable energy for all.

Expose the Truth

The continuing support of the ADB of projects which clearly fuel climate change hampers the adaptive capacities of communities and places the lives of people in serious danger. This trumps the Bank’s self-proclaimed image and stature. ADB is a two-faced Janus who continues to stand in the way of clean energy development in countries like the Philippines.

PMCJ and FDC continue to maintain that while ADB aggravates the people’s misery and that of the entire nation, it allows corporate greed of a few big monopolies to reign in the energy and power industry.

ADB OUT OF POWER and ENERGY, OUT OF CLIMATE NOW!!!

Philippine Movement for Climate Change
Freedom from Debt Coalition
June 25, 2013
Gerry Arances-Philippine Movement for Climate Justice 09328778578
Ricardo Reyes-Freedom from Debt Coalition 09322876175
Valentino de Guzman-Philippine Movement for Climate Justice 09199657509

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[Statement] on the Government of India’s act of reprisal against the Indian Social Action Forum -JSAPMDD

Statement on the Government of India’s act of reprisal against the Indian Social Action Forum

Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JSAPMDD)

jubilee-southIn an act of outright political repression, the Government of India recently issued orders to freeze the bank account of one of the largest civil society organizations in the country, the Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), on grounds of allegedly holding activities “prejudicial to the public interest”. By its own hand, the Government of India has cast a long shadow on its claim as the largest democracy in world.

The punitive action came as INSAF and many other organizations gathered near the venue of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Annual Meeting of Governors in northern India to voice their protest to the Bank’s projects. Many of these bank projects destroyed the environment, uprooted and displaced communities, and most importantly, railroaded the Indian nation’s sovereign right to plan their development not around GDP growth but the needs and interests especially of grassroots people.

We, the Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JSAPMDD) condemn and protest this blatant attack against INSAF and the Indian people’s civil and political rights. One of JSAPMDD’s 40 member-organizations across Asia, INSAF has consistently upheld the public interest and democratic rights through its work in helping grassroots people and communities fight poverty and discrimination and exercise their basic human and democratic rights.

There is no clearer expression of INSAF’s relevance and responsiveness to the public interest than the expansion of its membership to 700 social action groups, movements and progressive individuals in over 15 states of India today. Many widely-supported actions on a range of concerns – from access to essential social services such as water, to resisting land grabbing and the violent suppression of indigenous peoples and Dalits (“untouchables”) – attest to INSAF’s unswerving defense of the public interest since its founding in 1993.

We call on the ADB to pay more than lip service to the premium it gives to people’s participation, which includes listening to all views, especially from those most affected by its policies and projects. Innumerable reports of people left worse off than before already discredits the Bank’s avowed pursuit of reducing poverty and deprivation. To look the other way when a member-country employs strong-arm tactics to shepherd in ADB, and directly suppresses its people’s experiences and views of the Bank’s policies and projects disgraces and erodes this claim even further.

We call on the Government of India to uphold democratic rights and principles. What is clearly inimical to public interest is intolerance of dissent and political reprisal, which bar governments from truly understanding their constituents because they only listen to what they want to hear. Genuinely democratic governance welcomes opposing views and healthy debate; it does not curtail criticism in the guise of public interest.

We stand in solidarity with INSAF in resisting this latest attack on the Indian people’s rights and freedoms. We support you in vigilant opposition, knowing only too well from our many experiences of politically repressive regimes in Asia that strong-arm tactics often dangerously lead to even more suppressive measures. We are with you in asserting the exercise of the most basic of democratic rights to free speech, organization and peaceful assembly, and in standing firm against allowing any act assailing our human rights and democratic freedoms to go unchallenged.¢

10 May 2013, Jubilee South Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development

JSAPMDD is regional alliance of peoples’ movements, community organizations, coalitions, NGOs and networks, aimed at developing and advancing collective actions to realize people-centered development, economic and environmental rights and justice.

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[Press Release] CTUHR urges government to resolve joblessness, low wage to alleviate poverty

CTUHR urges government to resolve joblessness, low wage to alleviate poverty

CTUHR logoIn reaction to the latest poverty statistics reported by the NSCB which showed that poverty in the country has not changed from 2009 to 2012, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights urged the Aquino administration to resolve joblessness and low wages in order to alleviate poverty.

Daisy Arago, CTUHR executive director said, “We are not surprised at all that the poverty statistics did not improve—and this is despite the government already lowering the poverty threshold—precisely because joblessness is still prevalent even if there is economic growth.”

On Wednesday, the NSCB released the result of the 2012 poverty survey that showed poverty incidence at 27.9 percent, hardly an improvement from the 28.6 percent poverty incidence in 2009.

“Addressing unemployment and precarious jobs is a necessary step in order to lessen poverty. Giving the people significant wage hike could definitely increase family income and provide relief to many ailing Filipinos,” Arago said.

“And in order to create decent jobs, the government cannot rely on its labor export policy and volatile industries such like construction and BPOs. Even institutions that promote neoliberal policies like the ADB agree to this,” Arago added.

The group also urged the government to adopt a policy that aims to develop agriculture by implementing genuine agrarian reform and to build strong national industries “so that growth will not only trickle down to Filipinos in the lower strata of society but will directly benefit the poor.“

In addition, Arago also pointed out that the government should scrap its labor and economic policies that favor investors over the common good of most Filipinos. “The poor are ones hit the hardest by policies that allow labor contractualization and privatization of social services. These policies should be ended if the government seriously intends to cut down poverty,“ Arago averred.

RELEASE
26 April 2013

Reference: Daisy Arago, Executive Director, CTUHR. +632.411.0256

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[Statement] The Marcos’ Legacy of Fraudulent and Illegitimate Debts -FDC

The Marcos’ Legacy of Fraudulent and Illegitimate Debts

Photo by Rapha-el Olegario PhilRights

As the nation remembers today the declaration of Martial Law and the imposition of the Marcos fascist dictatorship 40 years ago—we recall not only the crimes and abuses , but the valiant struggles of our people to end the tyrannical regime.

Today is a day of remembering, so that we will not forget this dark chapter in our nation’s history and will not allow it to happen again.

Today is a day of reckoning, as we continue to pursue justice and redress for countless victims of Martial Law abuses, including crimes and legacies that continue to hound and harm our nation and people.

One of these criminal legacies, is the regime’s fraudulent and illegitimate debts that were riddled with corruption and hardly benefited the people. In 1986, the dictator fled the country and left our economy in shambles, burdened with $28 B foreign debt, from $1B, at the start of the Marcos’ presidency. Reports have it that 33% of Marcos regime’s loans , equivalent to $8B went to Marcos and his cronies pockets. Estimates of the Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth ranged from a low $5B to as high as $30B. The plunder of our economy plunged the people into mass poverty. In 1975, 57% of the Filipino families reportedly lived below the poverty line, while Marcos, his wife and their cronies indulged in extravagance and opulence. Today, Filipino taxpayers continue to bear the cost of the regime’s foreign debts, until 2025.

Successive post-martial law governments starting from the Cory Aquino government, not only failed to deliver economic justice to the people, but honored and paid from the people’s money, the Marcos regime’s fraudulent and illegitimate debts. They continued, repackaged and even enhanced the same discredited, flawed and ill-fated economic policies and strategies of the dictatorship that deny development and dignity to the many while ensuring the benefits of the few and the powerful as well as of their foreign partners and backers.

The Aquino government affirmed the Marcos practice of automatic appropriations for debt servicing, at the expense of the health, education and basic social services that the government is duty-bound to provide for the people. This policy contributed to a perennial and seemingly vicious cycle of budget shortfalls and fiscal crises, continued debt and interest payments, increased tax burdens, increased debt burdens and severe reduction , if not criminal neglect of the welfare needs, economic and social services for the people.

The Aquino regime and successive governments, often used the budget and the debt crisis they inherited from Marcos as reasons to allow the imposition of neoliberal policies by the multinational and international financial institutions such as the IMF-World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in exchange for more loans and other measures to ride out of their fiscal problems. They embarked for instance on privatization and deregulation of essential public services like water and power, the cheap sale of government assets and properties and the imposition of regressive tax measures such as the 10% Value-Added Tax (VAT) which was later increased and expanded to the detriment of the majority poor consumers. In 1992, when the Aquino presidency ended, the country’s total foreign debt increased by $2B more, to $30B. Under Aquino’s term, the economy was weighed down by 17% inflation rate, 10% unemployment and 65% of Filipinos who considered themselves poor.

The governments’ stubborn policy of debt repayments and their inability to spend and invest have consigned our country not only to debt burden and debt trap, but also economic stagnation, relative to its ASEAN neighbors. Between 1990-2005 for instance, the Philippines’ average annual GDP growth rate was the lowest in the region, according to former FDC President Walden Belo. Between 1986-1991 the country reportedly averaged a negative $1.5 B transfer of resources to the creditor countries each year.

New loans were also being contracted by post-EDSA governments increasingly from financial markets. These new dimensions of indebtedness, render our economy more vulnerable to the complexities and vagaries of the global financial system.

Today, under the Noynoy Aquino government, with its “Matuwid Na Daan and Inclusive Growth” policies, the country’s foreign debt stands at a whopping $62.4 B. In its 2013 budget, the P-noy government has earmarked at least P333.9 billion in interest payments alone, for the government’s debt.

The continuing failure of the Pnoy government to prioritize the people’s needs and welfare over debt servicing, is not only a failure to rectify the Marcos misdeeds. It is also a continuing economic injustice to the Filipino people perpetrated by the subsequent post-Martial law regimes to this day. Every hard-earned peso of every Filipino taxpayer paid to service the country’s debt, means every peso of unfulfilled obligation of the government to its citizens and people .This social debt to the people by successive governments must be repaid! In 2008, FDC reported that each Filipino, from the new-born to the dying owed P43,487 in public debt and is forced to pay P7,012 annually to service the debt. The Philippine government is spending P1.1 million per minute of the people’s money for debt servicing.

Today, under Pnoy’s term at least 23.1 million Filipinos consider themselves poor, with the bottom 30% of our people subsisting on a meager P173/day.

Today, as Martial Law victims and survivors continue to demand justice and compensation for their sufferings, we at the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) join hands in calling for economic justice and freedom from debt bondage and burden for the Filipino people. No to automatic debt servicing at the expense of people’s rights and welfare! Yes to repayment of social debt to the people!

Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
September 21, 2012

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[From the web] Growth gains didn’t trickle -INQUIRER.net

Growth gains didn’t trickle down.

By Amando Doronila, Philippine Daily Inquirer
May 7, 2012

Philippine economic performance during the past decade came under close scrutiny at the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and was found wanting.

The shortfalls were most pronounced in the slow economic growth, weak job creation, a large infrastructure spending gap and wide income inequality.

ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda set the tone of the examination by spelling out in his opening statement the Asia-Pacific region’s economic prospects as a key focus of the meeting. He said the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2011 report indicated the region should be able to maintain its growth momentum despite trouble elsewhere in the world.

The report forecast a healthy gross domestic product (GDP) of 6.9 percent for developing Asia and Pacific in 2012, and 7.3 percent in 2013. The Philippines is lagging behind in this yardstick, posting a mere 3.7 percent growth in 2011, down by half of its stellar 7-plus percent GDP growth in 2010.

The ADB’s forecast marred optimistic estimates by Philippine economic officials at the annual meeting. They expressed optimism that the economy would expand by 5 to 6 percent in 2012, higher than its growth in 2011.

Socioeconomic Secretary Cayetano Paderanga said in a press briefing that the government’s infrastructure expenditures were on track and economic indications were looking “good”—but not so good, in the eyes of ADB experts. Kuroda said the region still faced “significant challenges,” high among which was the issue of rising inequality.

“Unfortunately, while the region has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty, the benefits of growth have yet to reach several millions  of Asians who continue to struggle on less than $1.25 a day,” Kuroda said.

Read full article @ opinion.inquirer.net

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[Press Release] Protest greets ADB’s annual meeting -FDC

Photo source: FCAID FB

Protest greets ADB’s annual meeting

MANILA, Philippines – As the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) 45th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors commenced in Wednesday, various cause-oriented groups, led by the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), trooped to the Philippine International Convention Center, the venue of the ADB meeting, to protest the Bank’s role in the privatization of the energy and water sectors and in pushing coal and other dirty technologies in Asia and the Pacific.

Bearing signs such as “ADB: Serving the rich since 1966,” “Anti-Development Bank: of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%” and “Our power, water: not for sale,” the protesters lambasted ADB for coming out with another mantra, called “inclusive growth,” to cover up its failure to accomplish its declared objective of freeing Asia from poverty. They added that ADB only advanced the “corporate greed” of the United States, Japan and other global corporations, at the expense of the people and the environment.

The protesters also staged a satirical Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May)-inspired action, dubbed as “ADB de Delubyo (Disaster): A Parade of Protest.” In Philippine culture, “Flores de Mayo” is a flower festival celebrated in the month of May, in honor of the Virgin Mary. The highlight of the festival is a colorful pageant parade known as “Santacruzan,” which commemorates the search of the Holy Cross by Queen Helena and her son, the newly converted emperor Constantine.

Featured during the protest were “Queen of High Power Rates,” who represented the burden of Filipino people as having the highest power rates in Asia; “Queen of Thirst,” representing ADB’s push for privatizing the country’s potable and irrigation water; “Mother of Degraded Environment,” representing the effect of climate change and ADB’s callous support of dirty energy; and, “King of Indebtedness,” representing the social and economic cost of being highly-indebted.

Privatization

Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of Jubilee South-Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JSAPMDD), said that ADB bears a large share of the responsibility for the privatization of water and power services in Asia.

“There is no doubt that privatization of these services cause harm to peoples and the environment as shown by the experiences of communities and peoples in Asia. Because of privatization of these basic services, millions of impoverished and marginalized have much less access to safe and clean fresh water with the deterioration of the quality of service and the sharp increases in the cost of service,” stressed Nacpil, also FDC vice president.

The ADB has been involved in privatizing water services in the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. It is also involved in power privatization-related projects in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Thailand, Pakistan, Indonesia, and at least nine states in India received financing from ADB.

EPIRA

Ricardo B. Reyes, FDC president, said that one concrete example of an ADB-finance program was the Philippines’ Power Sector Restructuring Program that led to the legislation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

This has compelled the government to increase the generation rates to attract more investors to participate in the privatization of government’s generation assets. It also legitimized the debts arising from and payments to expensive and onerous contracts of National Power Corporation with independent power producers.

According to FDC, EPIRA failed to achieve its two categorical promises to the Filipino consumers – clean, accessible and reliable power supply to all and affordable electricity rates.

“After more than 10 years of EPIRA implementation, the Philippines now has the most expensive electricity rates in Asia. Mindanao, the southern part of the country, is still experiencing rotational blackouts. Worse, the Philippine government is holding people hostage: pay more for electricity and accept coal,” stressed Reyes.

Water

According to FDC, privatization of water services, in effect, contradicts and cannot co-exist with the people’s human right to water. On 28 July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly had declared that safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights, expressing deep concern that an estimated 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and a total of more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation.

Citing the privatization of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) as example, FDC said that water distribution under corporate control has negatively affected Metro Manila residents, especially the urban poor communities.

“Contrary to the positive promises of water privatization, what we experienced is the opposite. In just 12 years, water tariffs have risen exponentially by almost 1000%. Water lost to leakages in the West zone is higher than pre-privatization levels. The MWSS has still continued to incur more debts,” FDC said.

Arze Glipo, convenor of the Asia Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (APNFS), said there is an urgent need to expose the flawed logic behind the current drive to transform water into a source of profit and to assert our people’s basic right to water.

“We need to assert our right to water, our right to life. We need to expose ADB and World Bank’s promotion of a host of programs and policy reforms aimed at de-emphasizing the traditional view of water as a right and a common resource and its replacement with the concept of water as a tradable commodity,” stressed Glipo, also FDC vice president.

People’s Forum

The protest is part of the People’s Forum against the ADB, which is a parallel event to the ADB’s 45th Annual Meeting and is being held at the Bayview Park Hotel and Malate Catholic Church.

Topics discussed at the parallel event were ADB’s “Inclusive Growth” theme, Energy for All policy, Water for All policy which include Framework and Policy on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Water in Agriculture, and the Bank’s investments in coal and technologies that aggravate climate change.

Organizers of the People’s Forum include the Philippine Working Group (PWG) on the ADB, NGO Forum on ADB, JS-APMDD and APNFS.

Aside from FDC and JS-APMDD, those who joined the protest were leaders and members of, Faith-based Congress against Immoral Debts (FCAID), Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML), Matinik, Akbayan, Koalisyong Pabahay sa Pilipinas (KPP), Sanlakas and Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ). -30-

Contact persons:
Agee Linan, FDC Campaigner, +63.932.872.6168
Bobby Diciembre, FDC Communication Officer, +63.932.872.6162

NEWS RELEASE
02 May 2012

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[Statement] ADB’s “inclusive growth”: of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% – FDC

ADB’s “inclusive growth”: of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% – FDC
Activists hit “Anti-Development Bank” on ADB’s Annual Governors Meeting



On its Annual Governors Meeting (AGM) this year, the Freedom from Debt Coalition holds the Asian Development Bank (ADB) accountable for the Philippine’s and most of Asia’s development crisis and poverty.

ADB’s theme is centered on promoting “inclusive growth” – the flavor of the month in international capitalist financial institutions’ circles like those of the IMF-World Bank – through what they call better governance and partnerships.

Truth is, “inclusive growth” is a recycled version of the “ rapid growth with trickle down approach “ which global capitalist powers and IFIs have pushed in the 1980s to the 1990s in most countries of the South along with the principle of neo-liberalism following the political and economic reversals of countries and movements promoting social and economic redistribution as the way forward.

Now this formula is a massive pile of economic and theoretical rubbish, an utter failure in lifting most countries of the South from poverty, indebtedness, maldevelopment and unceasing internal political conflicts. Neo-liberalism, the dogma of free market and minimal state, is likewise in crisis in the wake of the most serious financial and economic crisis hitting the heartland of global capitalism – the US and Europe, since the 1930s.

How is ADB’s “inclusive growth” not actually “inclusive”? First, ADB’s “inclusive growth” calls for the aggressive removal of all constraints to growth like freeing up the market from the distortions created by corruption and rent-seeking practices in government. Yet, it turns a blind eye to the much larger constraints created by ADB and IMF-WB debt conditionalities which stunt agriculture and industry by imposing privatization in economies where long-entrenched monopolistic oligarchs and their global partners could easily gobble up capital and markets to the exclusion of the rest of the population including the small and medium scale entrepreneurs. Because these economies cannot develop in a sustained way, they are led to a condition of inexhaustible indebtedness—incurring more debts , through bonds or institutional debts – to repay old debts and finance the investment needs of global capital inside their countries.

Second, ADB’s “ inclusive growth “ discredits income and asset redistribution to favor what it calls “ productive employment “ through rapid growth. While growth can reduce unemployment, it can also create more unemployment. It really depends on what kind of growth is being promoted. By focusing on the growth of BPOs and other external market-driven services and mining, jobs in industry and agriculture are destroyed without a corresponding employment generation and development. This is a Philippine experience which produces massive unemployment and underemployment.

Third, ADB’s “inclusive growth” seeks to coopt a component of the pro-poor strategies which are critical of the” rapid growth with trickle down “ approach.

That component is direct measures of welfare and distribution. However, the the kind of direct measure that is promoted remains to be perverse. In the Philippines for instance, the poverty intervention of this financed by ADB would be the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programs mutated from its original form. CCT is not unconditional and universal – two basic requirements for being Rights-based. Instead, it downgrades the self-worth of its beneficiaries and makes them vulnerable to more patronage and manipulation by the powerful.

Worse, it is not even redistributive: it is not linked to any asset reform program because it is not financed through progressive taxation. There is no net transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor. In fact, being debt-financed, it merely transfers wealth from the future poor – if regressive taxation policies are not removed – to the poor now. As a social justice mechanism, CCT as ADB’s instrument for inclusive growth fails in this respect.

Bad history

If ADB’s current “inclusive growth” policy is not actually inclusive, then why should anyone subscribe to its prescriptions? No one should. In fact, ADB’s policy prescriptions have resulted to an ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor via giving the rich access to utilities previously owned by governments – utilities that allow them to extract rent from natural monopolies and oligopolies. It simply has no moral ascendancy on promoting anything “inclusive”.

In power, for instance, ADB approved in 1998 a US$300-million loan for Power Sector Restructuring Program (PSRP) in the Philippines to address the heavy indebtedness of NPC, rising cost of electricity and inefficient delivery of electricity service. In return, PSRP gave a big push for the enactment of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to privatize the debt-ridden NPC and restructure the power industry. More than a decade after, the Philippines is facing the highest power rates in Asia, with the sector now under the tight grip of an entrenched oligopoly that EPIRA is supposedly against: the Lopez and Aboitiz families who reaped super-profit bonanzas from the cross-ownership of power generation and distribution. Manny V. Pangilinan controls ownership of Meralco, the distribution super-monopoly of Luzon. Danding Cojuangco grabbed 30 percent of power generation in Luzon. Henry Sy effectively controls the country’s transmission line along with the Government of China. Inclusive growth, anyone?

In food, ADB’s Grain Sector Development Program (GSDP) irresponsibly pushed for the privatization of the National Food Authority (NFA) and the liberalization of grain trading, in the process encouraging greater private investment in the sector. Years later, we have the previously rice-exporting Philippines emerging as the top importer of rice, blamed by the world for causing the worldwide rice crisis. Who gains from high rice prices? Rice traders like the Binondo 7 and emerging cartels in Visayas and Mindanao reaped windfall profits. Inclusive growth?

“Anti-Development Bank”

And the list goes on and on for the water, climate, and public finance sectors. In the end, ADB has no moral ascendancy to claim that it can work for “inclusive growth”. ADB has worked for and continues to work for the rich, powerful 1% – and like the Goldman Sachs had been in the United States, it has denied the 99% access to welfare and real opportunities to live decent and secure human lives.

ADB is clearly anti-development: its’ wrong prescriptions led to high power and food prices which continue to erode Filipino’s purchasing power and sabotage our attempts to create a robust domestic market which can promote a sustainable industrial, agricultural and service development. ADB is clearly anti-poor: its’ policies resulted to oligopolies entrenched in various economic and social sectors, increasing the inequality in Asian nations already suffering from the mal-governance of its respective elites.

ADB is a failure. Only by recognizing the fact that ADB has lost its legitimacy as a supposedly instrument for development and shunning its interventions that impoverished Asian countries like the Philippines can chart a truly strategic pathways to real humane development.

*********************

Freedom from Debt Coalition
#11 Matimpiin St., Brgy. Pinyahan, Quezon City 1100, NCR, Philippines
Phone: : (+632) 9211985 * Telefax: (+632) 9246399
Website: http://www.fdc.ph * Email: mail@fdc.ph

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] PNoy, hinikayat na gamitin ang kapangyarihan vs oil price increase -GMA News

PNoy, hinikayat na gamitin ang kapangyarihan vs oil price increase
GMA News
March 14, 2012


Hinikayat ng ilang kongresista si Pangulong Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, na gamitin ang kapangyarihan nito para tugunan ang lumalalang problema sa patuloy na pagtaas ng presyo ng mga produktong petrolyo.

Nitong Miyerkules, nanawagan si House Minority leader Danilo Suarez sa pamahalaang Aquino, na pag-isipan ang posisyon nito tungkol sa mungkahing suspindihin ang pagsingil ng value added tax (VAT) sa langis para maibaba ang presyo ng naturang produkto.

“Whenever the free market clearly and consistently hurts more people than it helps, this is called market failure, and this undeniably applies to the current situation when oil companies are enjoying unbridled profits, government is raking in enormous VAT collections on those windfall profits, but hunger and poverty increasing, prices are going up and jobs are going down,” paliwanag ng lider ng minorya sa Kamara.

Nais naman ni Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay na malaman kung ano ang mga planong inilatag ng Department of Energy upang tugunan ang problema at matulungan ang publiko.

Binatikos niya ang desisyon ng Malacanang huwag galawin ang VAT sa langis samantalang ang pondong ginagamit sa conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme, ay kinukuha naman sa inutang sa Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

[In the news] Asia-Pacific makes big gains against poverty, lags on hunger and child deaths — UN

Asia-Pacific makes big gains against poverty, lags on hunger and child deaths — UN
UN News
February 19, 2012

NEW YORK — Countries in the Asia-Pacific region have made big gains against poverty and advancing toward other development goals, but need to redouble efforts if they are to meet globally agreed targets to reduce hunger and child and maternal mortality, the United Nations reported over the weekend.

The region has already reached the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the incidence of poverty, reducing the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 per day from 50 to 22 percent between 1990 and 2009, according to the latest UN regional assessment.

The region has also achieved some other MDG indicators ahead of the 2015 deadline, states the report, published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the UN Development Program (UNDP).

These include promoting gender equality in education, reducing HIV prevalence, stopping the spread of tuberculosis, increasing forest cover, reducing consumption of ozone-depleting substances and halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water.

At the same time, the report states that while strong economic dynamism has driven regional success in reducing poverty, many countries continue to lose “shocking” numbers of children before their fifth birthday and thousands of mothers die unnecessarily while giving birth. More than three million children below the age of five died in 2010 alone.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[Press Release] Nat’l climate change network scores $101M e-trikes loan – Aksyon Klima Pilipinas

Quezon City, 2 Feb 2012 — More civil society groups called for the rejection of the hundred-million-dollar clean technology loan which was diverted from a solar power generation initiative to an electric tricycle (e-trike) project of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

According to statements from Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, a national civil society network, “There appears to be potential misuse and abuse of the Clean Technology Fund. The dearth of consultation with different sectors, not just civil society, is deeply troubling.”

“A sustained dialogue would have cured what seem to be fundamental infirmities in the project design, which if left unchanged will adversely affect the country’s low carbon transport program in the long term,” the climate change advocacy group said.

Aksyon Klima wrote to the Trust Fund Committee of the Washington D.C.-based Clean Technology Fund (CTF) last Tuesday, just before the CTF Trust Fund Committee was expected to approve the decision.

“The reallocation of funds away from the innovative renewable energy programs in the Philippines — at a time when intervention from international funds for transformational energy programs is sorely needed in the country — is deplorable,” Elpidio Peria, Aksyon Klima convenor, wrote.

A total of $125 million was allocated last 2009 from the CTF administered by the ADB for the country’s renewable energy and energy efficiency program, but $101 million was reallocated late last year for the e-trikes project, with $24 million remaining for energy efficiency.

The Asia-wide civil society watchdog NGO Forum on the ADB has likewise communicated similar concerns about the ADB initiative with the CTF Trust Fund Committee. The Quezon City-based Freedom from Debt Coalition and Greenpeace, both Aksyon Klima members, have also released statements to media questioning the lack of consultation and other “serious technical concerns” plaguing the ADB project.

“The ADB’s manipulation of this project for its own benefit calls into question its sincerity in truly helping the country achieve its climate mitigation, technology and finance goals,” Peria, head of the General Santos-based BITS Policy Center, said in an interview.

Peria scored the DOE’s abdication of its duty “to exercise control over loan peddlers.” He quoted Department of Energy Undersecretary Loreta Ayson who responded to FDC’s inquiry over the agency’s ownership of the project, saying “The decision on how to deploy the e-trike financing is not within the Department’s authority but under the Asian Development Bank (ADB).”

“If this does not expose the authorship of the initiative, we don’t know what else will,” Peria said.

Aksyon Klima noted that certain flaws in the project design invite corruption.

“For instance, all vehicle components will be bid out save for the vehicle assembly stage. Yet there is no information as to the entity that will assemble 100,000 e-trikes, that will be, by the project’s schedule, given away to so-called ‘beneficiary lists’ identified by local government in 2013 — an election year — up to the 2016 presidential elections,” said Peria. ###
Aksyon Klima Pilipinas (AK) is a national network of more than 40 civil society organizations working on diverse climate and development-related issues.

The Clean Technology Fund (CTF), one of two multi-donor Climate Investment Funds, promotes scaled-up financing for demonstration, deployment and transfer of low-carbon technologies with significant potential for long-term greenhouse gas emissions savings. The CTF promotes programs for energy efficiency and for the power and transport sectors.

Contact: Denise Fontanilla, Advocacy Officer

+63906.438.7229  info@aksyonklima.com

[In the news] Groups protest ADB funding for e-tricycles – GMA News

Groups protest ADB funding for e-tricycles
GMA News
January 31, 2012

 Civil society and green groups groups are blocking the way for electric tricycles, saying the $101-million loan funds for the technology were diverted from the more urgent solar generation project.

This was the latest blow to efforts to make the Philippines greener and less dependent on fossil fuels, said environmental groups, who have protested the government’s move to reduce the allocation capacity for renewable energy.

Flawed financing scheme

Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Freedom From Debt Coalition (FFDC) on Friday hit the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) for diverting the loan without consultation with stakeholders. They also demanded that the Trust Fund Committee of the Washington DC-based Clean Technology Fund to “reject the ADB’s proposal”.

“Subsidies for E-trikes are not needed, especially not for a project like this with a flawed design. Financing for renewable energy and feed-in-tariffs are. The ADB has no business diverting money away from country priorities,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Francis de la Cruz in a statement.

“There have been zero consultations on the fund diversion with the renewable energy industry in the country. This is outrageous,” de la Cruz said.

E-trikes: The bigger picture

The ADB has started to pilot the e-trike project as early as 2010 to solve the nation’s growing transportation demands in a way that is both cost-conscious and environmentally responsible. The project, which was first tried out in Metro Manila, will roll out this year.

According to the ADB, electric vehicles are highly efficient, using up to 75 percent of their energy to power the vehicle versus only 20 percent used in most internal combustion engines. The e-trike produces no noise and zero tailpipe emissions and can be charged at night during off-peak electricity hours.

But green groups were not impressed by the plan. They criticized the eTrikes project of the ADB for the absence of disposal, after-sales services and replacement programs in the project design. The ADB intends to utilize new electric vehicle technologies, particularly lithium ion batteries, in its eTrikes. Greenpeace and FDC said lithium-ion batteries were recalled in the US recently for safety and maintenance issues.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

[Press Release] Gov’t urged to fast-track access to climate change adaptation funds – Aksyon Klima

 January 16 — As the impeachment court resumes its trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona today, a civil society network appealed to the government to remain focused on implementing urgent policy measures that can help the country withstand global warming impacts.

“Climate chaos is the new normal and should not be forgotten in the middle of political debates. We can honor the memory of the typhoon and landslide victims by speeding up the country’s application for direct access to international climate change adaptation funds,” according to a statement from Aksyon Klima Pilipinas (AK), a national network of 40 civil society organizations working on climate change issues.

The network stressed that adaptation actions — such as alternative irrigation measures, anti-flooding initiatives, comprehensive local vulnerability assessments, local meteorological capacity- and capability-building training programs — could prevent further deaths and damage, even though they are expected to strain local government budgets.

“The country must have enough funds to protect itself from episodic extreme weather events. It must also be able to adapt to more frequent or longer dry seasons and increased rainfall. Slow-onset climate change impacts like these pose long-term economic threats to the country,” said Atty. Elpidio V. Peria, the new AK convenor and executive director of the General Santos-based Biodiversity, Innovation, Trade and Society (BITS) Policy Center.

Aksyon Klima also called on the Climate Change Commission to designate by the end of the month the Department of Finance as the country’s National Implementing Entity that will directly access resources from the United Nations-formed Adaptation Fund.

“There is an urgent need for the DOF to act as a central, if not the lead, agency in mustering national and international funds for early climate change adaptation action in the country,” said Red Constantino, leader of AK’s finance cluster and executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.

The Adaptation Fund was established under the Kyoto Protocol, the global legally binding treaty requiring developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The fund is mainly financed with two percent of the Certified Emission Reduction issued for projects of the Clean Development Mechanism, as well as other sources.

Among the fund’s unique features is a modality that allows countries to directly access the funds without having to go through multilateral implementing entities such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Two direct access projects have already been funded — one for coastline protection in Senegal and another for anti-drought investments in small livestock farms in Uruguay.

AK asked the Aquino administration to submit its designated implementing entity before the end of the month so it can form part of the early queue of direct access applicants and at the same time contribute to the Adaptation Fund Board’s next meeting this March in Germany. The Fund’s board has already approved 17 projects and programs for funding to date, amounting to more than 108 million US dollars, or more than four billion pesos.

The network also renewed its calls for the immediate passage of the People’s Survival Fund Bill in the Lower House, especially in the aftermath of tropical storm “Sendong” (international name “Washi”)last December.

“The Senate has already done its part, having passed the PSF last September. The House must move to mobilize domestic climate finance with a higher sense of urgency,” said Constantino.

The Philippines ranked third in the United Nations University’s climate change vulnerability index released last October. The country also occupies the 10th spot among countries most affected by the impacts of extreme weather events in the last 20 years, based on the list released last November by the Global Climate Risk Index initiative. ###

Contact: Denise Fontanilla, Advocacy Officer
+63906.438.7229 | info@aksyonklima.com

AKSYON KLIMA PILIPINAS
PRESS RELEASE | January 15, 2012

[Event] Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Management in the Philippines

Roundtable:
CLIMATE EXCHANGE:
Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Management in the Philippines

1PM-5PM
9 November 2011
(Wednesday)

Please note that the venue of the Roundtable has been changed to:
BENITEZ THEATER,
Benitez Hall, College of Education,
University of the Philippines (UP),
Diliman, Quezon City.

We bring together thinkers, climate change activists, key government officials, the academe, green business, and policy makers, to dialogue and reach consensus on climate change adaptation strategies for our most vulnerable communities.

This is a joint initiative of the Asian Institute of Management TeaM Energy (Center for Bridging Leadership) and MISSION (Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives, Organizing and Networking).

Several speakers have signified their consent to be part of the panel.
Among these are Nicanor Perlas (President of the Center for Alternative Development Initiatives), Commissioner Yeb Sano (Climate Change Commission), David Mc Cauley (Climate Change Specialist of the Asian Development Bank), Ernie Gonzales (Partido Kalikasan), Mark Evidente (Master of Environment Management from Yale), Michelle Z. Reyes (Masters of Marine Science from the University of the Philippines), Rodne Galicia (The Climate Project), Aksyon KLIMA and Mr. Tony de Castro (Organic Producers and Trade Association of the Philippines.)

Movement of Imaginals for a Sustainable Society through Initiatives, Organization and Networking

[Event] Power off on 10.11.11, 7:30-8:00 PM in protest of high electricity rates – FCAID

One of the promises of Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), when it was passed in 2001, was to reduce the cost of electricity. However, in FDC’s computation, this was not the case. In fact, electricity rates skyrocketed from P5/kwh before EPIRA to P10/kwh as of today and will increase even more when all rate applications will be granted.

EPIRA was one of the policy impositions/conditionalities of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). This law also pushed for the privatization of state-owned assets. In return, the Philippine Government was able to get a loan for the Power Sector Restructuring Program (PSRP) and the Power Sector Development Program (PSDP) in 2001. Privatization of public utilities like power means that the people are under the mercy of these private corporations whose main agenda is PROFIT not public service.

These IFIs such as ADB and World Bank claim to fight poverty. However, they imposed policy conditionalities such as deregulation, privatization, liberalization and contractualization, which in the long run became detrimental to the economic and social development of poor countries such as the Philippines. It violated the sovereignty of countries. Worst, these have affected the poor and most vulnerable communities.

These IFIs claim to help the poor but what kind of model in helping do they follow? Helping with strings and conditions attached? Is this the Christian way of helping the poor?

Come and join communities, cities and provinces as they shut their power off on 10.11.11, 7:30-8:00 PM in protest of high electricity rates. If your community is interested to join, please email us your exact location (barangay, city, province).  

Maria Fatima “JOFTI” Villena
Project Coordinator
Faith-based Congress Against Immoral Debts (FCAID)
Mobile No.: +639088945174

[Statement] “Walk the Talk”: Housing Rights Activists Call on ASEAN to Match Pro-People Claims with Human Rights Actions

The Centre on Housing Rights  and Evictions (COHRE)Asia  and  housing rights activists in the region call on the Association of  Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),  to match its avowed goals of building  a people-centered and “sharing and caring” regional community with concrete actions that will seriously address the persistent housing and human rights issues, as well as the growing  social and economic justice concerns in the region.

Ït is now time for the ASEAN to move beyond mere aspirational goals and best-endeavor language into concrete policies, strategies and action plans that address   the stubborn housing and human rights challenges in the region. Failing to do this, will render ASEAN’s lofty aims, empty and meaningless for the vast majority of the region’s poor who are on the receiving end of the costs and burdens of  ASEAN’s regional integration.

Housing and human rights violations and insecurity in Southeast Asia

Tens of millions of people in Southeast Asia, endure various levels of housing rights violations and insecurity of abode and tenure. They are mostly the poor and the vulnerable, in both the cities and the countryside and include women, children and the elderly, who often bear the disproportionate cost and the brunt of sufferings.

Housing rights violations in Southeast Asia often occur as a result of a combination of governments’ economic and development policies, widespread poverty, marginalization and exclusion of the majority of the region’s impoverished, and their  lack of access to effective remedies.  Massive displacements also take place  in situations of armed conflicts such as in Burma as people are driven away from their homes and lands. These violations  are compounded by the prevailing climate of impunity and perception of widespread corruption in the region

The construction of mega-projects and resource extraction activities including those funded or bankrolled by the IMF-World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and transnational corporations dispossess vulnerable people of their lands and homes and drive them away from sources of subsistence.

Housing and human rights violations continue to seriously challenge ASEAN’s  goal of establishing a “sharing and caring” regional community  where human rights and  social justice  should prevail and  the costs and benefits of regional integration are equitably shared by all. ASEAN and the SEA community should seriously address and secure housing and human rights for all and make them truly work, particularly for  those who have the least in these entitlements.

ASEAN:”Walking the talk”

ÄSEAN should ensure that human rights and social justice should be the cornerstone of its policies and programs, and a pillar of the entire ASEAN system. This entails the review and possibly the reversal of policies and programs that harm the people, the crafting of policies and programs with genuine people’s  participation , and a reframing of development and economic policies that put ASEAN people’s interests before profits and the people’s welfare and well-being over the demands of  markets..

COHRE recognizes that the main tasks of ensuring that  human rights and social justice occupy the centrality of ASEAN’s people-centered agenda, polices and programs  currently reside with the regional body’s newly-established ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission on Women and Children (ACWC).

The AICHR and ACWC should ensure  its human rights functions are both protection and promotion. They should address a broad range of human rights, including economic social and cultural rights. They should ensure  and institutionalize effective  participation of  the CSOs and the human rights claimants in their respective functions and activities. They should help ensure the ASEAN governments’ adherence to their international human rights commitments and compliance with their respective human rights treaty obligations. They should develop effective standards and mechanisms to ensure that non-state actors  such  as corporations and multi-lateral agencies, respect the human rights of  peoples in the region and provide restitution, compensation and similar redress for individuals and communities harmed by their activities

Towards a People-Centered ASEAN for a Just Global Community

To help ensure that housing and human rights is placed on the agenda of the ASEAN civil society in its engagement with ASEAN, COHRE-Asia  is actively participating in the forthcoming 11th ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC) /ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2011, from May 3-5, 2011 in Jakarta Indonesia. The ACSC/APF 2011 has for its theme, “Claiming a People-Centered ASEAN for a Just Global Community”.

COHRE-Asia  will organize a workshop on “Securing Housing and Human Rights and Economic Justice for Southeast Asia: A Major Challenge to the ASEAN”on  May 4, where various housing rights activists from Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia will share the housing and human rights situation on the ground in order to develop a better understanding of the Housing, land and property rights (HLPR) issues in their various context and dimensions, and as a common human rights challenge in the region. The role of non-state actors and their impacts on housing and human rights, focusing on the WB projects, will also be critically examined. The workshop also aims to formulate a set of recommendations and call to action addressed to the ASEAN, the governments in the region and other duty-bearers. The workshop is being co-organized by COHRE, Human Rights Education-Institute Burma, ADHOC-Cambodia, YLBHI-Indonesia, Dignity International and the Bank Information Center (BIC).

COHRE-Asia  will also convene a meeting of a core group of housing and human rights advocates in the region to explore the establishment of a housing and human rights network  that will amplify, assert and help realize housing and human rights for all in Southeast Asia. The core group meeting will be participated in by COHRE’s national housing rights partner-organizations and interested housing and human rights advocates.

For further details, please contact: Sammy Gamboa, Sammy@cohre.org , Tel. 0821.22.852773

Jakarta, Indonesia
May1, 2011

[In the news] Ballooning population blamed for hunger | The Philippine Star News Headlines

Ballooning population blamed for hunger | The Philippine Star News Headlines.
By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star)
Source: Philstar.com

 

File photo source BMP

MANILA, Philippines – Supporters of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill have blamed the country’s ballooning population for the reported rise in hunger incidence in the last three months.

Benjamin de Leon, president of the Forum for Family Planning and Development (The Forum), said on Saturday that the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), which showed that more Filipinos experienced involuntary hunger in the past three months, “is a reflection of the dire need for the country to be better educated on the benefits of family planning to address the problem of the growing number of Filipinos who have experienced hunger and poverty.”

The SWS survey, conducted from March 4 to 7, found 20.5 percent of respondents or about 4.1 million families who went hungry at least once in the past three months.

This was up from the 18.1 percent (an estimated 3.4 million families) recorded in November 2010, the SWS said.

President Aquino earlier said the survey may have failed to include the beneficiaries of the government’s conditional cash transfer program who are mostly in the Visayas and Mindanao.

“Even if the survey only covered Manila, it still demonstrates that hunger and poverty are climbing in the capital. The President’s Cabinet may be telling him that things are getting better, but the people are telling him their conditions are getting worse,” De Leon said.

“Who is better to speak for the people than the people themselves? The random answer given in the survey said that they are poor, they are hungry. They want to alleviate their poverty. I think that if they are given the choice of family planning methods, the survey would not be this disheartening,” De Leon said.

Citing a paper released by the University of the Philippines School of Economics, De Leon said the “rapid population growth and high fertility rates, especially among the poor, do exacerbate poverty and make it harder for the government to address it.”

The Asian Development Bank made the same opinion in its Country Poverty Analysis for the Philippines, said De Leon.

“Giving poor women the ability to have only as many children as they plan to have will curb rising hunger and poverty,” De Leon said quoting the ADB report.

De Leon said that with the RH bill, families would spend less money on their basic needs.

“Unplanned children mean unwanted expenses. Money spent by the poorest families on pre- and post-natal care, child care, housing, and school supplies could go to alleviating the rising hunger and poverty that SWS has identified they are facing,” De Leon said.

Civil society groups, including The Forum, have been asking Aquino to certify the RH bill as urgent.

“Much to the disappointment of the Catholic Church, the government had been consistent in its position on responsible parenthood and reproductive health through its current programs but this is just a stopgap measure. Given the current situation, certifying the RH bill as urgent is a big leap in addressing the poverty situation for the long term,” De Leon said.

Participation welcomed

Meantime, a Malacañang official yesterday welcomed Filipino world-class singer Lea Salonga’s voice in the raging debate over the Reproductive Health bill, even if this is against the stand of the Roman Catholic Church.

“As a private citizen, she is perfectly entitled to voice out her opinion. Our focus is really on hearing the opinions of stakeholders,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.

The RH bill, which has been vigorously opposed by the bishops, is now with the House of Representatives, where six consolidated bills will be undergoing plenary deliberations before it can be approved and sent to the Senate.

Over the weekend, Ms. Salonga joined about 300 residents of posh Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City, where they voiced their concerns and opposed a local ordinance that prohibited the use of condoms.

The residents trooped to the Ayala Alabang gate at the corner of Commerce and Madrigal Avenues to protest Ordinance No. 1 that restricts the sale of contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription.

“As a citizen of this peaceful barangay, I oppose this ordinance,” said Salonga, adding that she is “disappointed” with the local measure. The world-acclaimed singer said she decided to live in the posh village as it has a harmonious community.

Salonga clarified that although she is an RH advocate, she considers this a separate issue.

Former health secretary Esperanza Cabral, also an Ayala Alabang resident, likewise opposed the ordinance, saying no one should dictate on what people should do regarding this matter.

Cabral is worried that other LGUs might issue a similar ordinance.

In late March, seven barangays in Balanga City in Bataan province issued ordinances that ban the sale of condoms without a doctor’s prescription.

Other Ayala Alabang residents who supported the demonstration are business leader Pete Wallace, artist and tour guide Carlos Celdran, and other NGO groups. -With Delon Porcalla