Tag Archives: Focus on The Global South Philippines

[Statement] FROM LOCKDOWN TO CRACKDOWN: Focus on the Global South Statement on the Anti-Terror Bill in the Philippines -Focus on the Global South

FROM LOCKDOWN TO CRACKDOWN: Focus on the Global South Statement on the Anti-Terror Bill in the Philippines

Focus on the Global South joins other progressive groups and movements in strongly opposing the imminent passage of a new anti-terrorism bill in the Philippines. That the proposed law was railroaded in both Houses of Congress—with Duterte himself certifying the bill as urgent—as millions of Filipinos continue to grapple with the long term impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic speaks of the despotic and authoritarian character of this administration. The normalization of violence, the criminalisation of dissent, the demonisation of human rights defenders and now the institutionalization of the State’s assault on human rights and fundamental freedoms will forever be etched in our collective consciousness as the enduring legacy of the Duterte regime.

The fear that the law will be used to designate protests and other legitimate expressions of dissent and civil disobedience in the exercise of our rights as terrorist acts is not without basis. For decades, law enforcers themselves have taken an active role in harassing and killing progressive groups under the guise of maintaining peace and order. Under the Duterte administration, they have taken an even more aggressive stance by assuming what is supposedly the role of the judiciary to determine who is guilty of transgressing the law and imposing the penalties for such. Their actions have been enabled by the Duterte administration, which has shown its capacity and willingness to exert violence against the people.

It is a government at war with its own citizens. The casualties from its failed “Oplan Tokhang” or anti-illegal drugs campaign, estimated at 30,000 people, continue to rise; its pro-corporate economic agenda continues to threaten the lives and livelihoods of farmers, fishers, workers, indigenous peoples, and women; and its inefficient, militaristic, and heavy-handed response to the COVID-19 public health emergency has exacerbated the health, political, economic, social, and cultural impacts of the crisis.

Read complete statement @focusweb.org

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[Off-the-shelf] China: An Imperial Power in the Image of the West? – Focus on the Global South

This study seeks to answer the question: Is China an imperial power in the image of the West in its relationship with the global south?

Over the last 15 years, there have been increasing accusations of Chinese state enterprises and private companies being involved in unfair labor practices, environmentally damaging projects, land-grabbing, locking borrowing countries into debt, and indirectly providing support for dictatorships. many of these accusations parallel similar criticisms of the behavior of state-owned enterprises, private capitalists, and local authorities within China itself. China has also drawn criticism for its unilateral moves in seizing disputed maritime formations and violating the territorial and economic rights of its neighbors in the south China sea. Many of these criticisms are valid, and unless China addresses them in a positive fashion soon, these questionable behaviors and practices could congeal into structures of domination similar to those that have marked the relationship of the West with the global south.

Perhaps, equally worrisome is that China’s expansion has its own complex of worrisome characteristics that are not reducible solely to reproducing western patterns but can also lead, if unchecked, to hegemonic behavior. Foremost among these is a technocratic top-down approach to development with a cross-ideological appeal that is resistant to democratic control and insensitive to environmental considerations, fully on display in Beijing’s Belt and road Initiative.

Frank and fearless criticism of China’s disturbing practices, the study argues, is the best way to help prevent it from following in the footsteps of the West.
“Walden Bello has been one of the most powerful intellectual warriors against Western hegemony and an empathetic advocate of independent development in the Global South for decades. Now, confronting the rise of China, Bello pulls no punches in critiquing this new hegemon and analyzing its origins and weaknesses.”

Ho Fung Hung
Wiesenfeld Professor in Political Economy, Johns Hopkins University; author of The China Boom: Why China Will Not Rule the World.

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China: An Imperial Power in the Image of the West?

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[Statement] Young farmer killed in Bataan over agrarian land -Focus on the Global South

focusweb.org

Hermosa, Bataan – Tensions broke out in Barangay Sumalo after farmers protested a checkpoint illegally installed by private guards of Riverforest Development Corporation which led to a violent confrontation that took the life of one and injured two others.

The deadly violence erupted last June 08, 2019. Christopher Villete (26) and Elmer Bautista Jr. (22) were caught up in a heated altercation with Riverforest’s guards after the two questioned the legality of the said checkpoints that prohibited residents from bringing farming or building materials into the Barangay. A guard allegedly threatened Villete and Bautista Jr. with a balisong (butterfly knife) which prompted the two to report the incident to Elmer Bautista Sr. (54), a Barangay Kagawad.

Bautista Sr. rushed to the scene and confronted the guards about the threats his son and nephew received. Shortly thereafter, Titanic Mystica (60), Riverforest’s “communication officer” and known supporter of the company arrived, firing several warning shots from his .9mm pistol before facing an angered Bautista Sr. with more threats and provocation.

According to witness accounts, violence erupted when Mystica allegedly pointed his gun at the direction of Bautista Sr. and the two young men while threatening to pull the trigger. This prompted Bautista Sr., to step into the line of fire to protect his son and nephew. Mystica however, allegedly fired at Bautista Sr., hitting him in the chest. In an attempt to defend themselves, Villete and Bautista Jr. grappled with some guards, while Mystica kept firing at onlookers who rushed to aid Bautista Sr. Witnesses also say that Villete was knifed in the chest by the guard who threatened him earlier.

Seeing Bautista Sr. being beaten and dragged to a nearby security outpost, Villete, Bautista Jr. and several young men attempted to take Baustista Sr. to safety, going toe-to-toe with several guards while Mystica allegedly fired more shots at them. Bautista Jr. was hit by a bullet in his foot and was maimed. Amidst the confusion, Villete and several others managed to reach Bautista Sr.’s side. Witnesses say that Mystica, now pointing his gun at Bautista Sr.’s head pulled the trigger and missed. Instead, the bullet hit Villete in the face.

Bleeding and coughing blood, Villete cried for help before collapsing to the ground. Angered by what they saw, both farmers and residents rushed to subdue Mystica, who already ran out of bullets. Barangay Captain Rolando Martinez along with the village peace keeping corps arrived after the shootings, and put Mystica into their custody for a later turnover to local police forces. The three farmers including Mystica were then rushed to the hospital, with Villete pronounced dead upon arrival.

Villete was raised by a farming family in Sumalo and was active in a group of young community defenders who stood up against various forms of harassments from Riverforest’s private security. In 2017, he led his peers during Sumalo’s 100-kilometer march from Bataan to Quezon City and joined the 2-month camp-out protest at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Central Office. Villete worked as photocopier machine operator in the nearby Hermosa Ecozone and Industrial Park and was supposed to leave the country for Taiwan as an Overseas Filipino Worker before the end of June.

For more than two decades, the Samahang Nagkakaisang Magsasaka ng Barangay Sumalo (SANAMABASU) has led the struggle for land rights in a 214-hectare property claimed by the Riverforest Development Corporation, a property developer owned by the Litton Family. In 2006, the Supreme Court decided in favor of Riverforest, ending Sumalo’s decade-long legal struggle against a petition to convert their farmlands to commercial/industrial use. In 2011, the conversion order issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform to Riverforest lapsed after the company failed to introduce substantial development in the disputed property, enabling the farmers to file for Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) coverage. Since then, Riverforest has intensified the presence of armed security personnel in the area, installed enclosures that prevented farmers from freely tending to their crops, and filed criminal cases against persons who actively resisted various forms of harassments from the said armed guards.

In January this year, the Office of the President (OP) released a 17-page decision revoking Riverforests’ petition for land conversion and ordered the DAR to initiate the process of coverage and distribution. Riverforest again stalled the process by refusing entry of DAR personnel set to conduct ocular inspections and surveys in enclosed land parcels in the disputed area.

Jaime Tadeo of Paragos Pilipinas, a national farmer’s organization supporting SANAMABASU, says that the Villete’s death reflects the terrible realities in the countryside, where farmers’ rights are constantly trampled by those with enough power to assert better claims over lands. The prevalence of harassments and killings of farmers despite thirty-one years of CARP according to Tadeo, illustrates the lack of government intervention to protect tillers entrenched in agrarian conflict as well as the DAR’s weakness in promoting redistributive reform against strong land-owner resistance.

Trinidad Domingo of the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) explains that protracted land-struggles and the slow-paced process of coverage and distribution leads to the erosion of farmer’s rights as it empowers landlords or corporations to operate with impunity—in their attempt to dissolve the claims of actual tillers over the land. Domingo adds that some local DAR officials are known to broker backdoor land deals and have colluded with landlords and corporations to stall the progression of agrarian cases or halt the actual distribution of lands to potential beneficiaries.

Fe Andulan, a farmer leader of SANAMABASU laments that Christopher’s death could have been prevented had DAR been quick enough in its effort to uphold the OP decision. “Though we are aware of the legal technicalities involved before actual distribution of lands can take place, each passing day without any resolution to our case creates more tension between the community and Riverforests guards who continue to harass and intimidate us,” Andulan adds. “We pray for peace in our community as we are frightened for the safety of our loved ones. But as we mourn our loss, we also vow to continue the struggle for land and justice.”

The Save Agrarian Reform Alliance strongly condemns the killing of Christopher Villete as well as the hundreds of tillers who lost their lives in the fight for social justice through agrarian reform.

In line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s mandate to finish Land Acquisition and Distribution backlogs by 2022, we challenge the DAR to hasten the resolution of agrarian cases and as well as the process of coverage and distribution, especially in areas where the safety and well being of farmers are constantly under threat.

We are also compelling the DAR as well as other agencies involved in the implementation of CARP to prioritize the distribution of Private Agricultural Lands, particularly those under Compulsory Acquisition as it embodies the ideal of the program to dismantle the monopolies of oligarchs and corporations over land.

In light of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People working in Rural Areas, we call on government to come up with stronger measures to protect farmers in agrarian conflicts from harassments and violence as well as to establish safeguards that protect potential and existing beneficiaries from land-grabbing, title cancellation, land conversions and other forms of reversals,

Let this not be another case of serious human rights violations where the violated are the ones being prosecuted. This case is a test to the capacity of this government to bring justice to farmers against the impunity of a corporation and its abusive agents on the ground, in this case, the armed guards, whose main task is to defy the law and resist agrarian reform.

SARA also enjoins other sectors and social movements to also push for the effective implementation of agrarian reform as it is not only a farmers’ issue, but is closely tied to the future of the country’s food security. We must again look into the deep-seated issues plaguing our countryside and work towards protecting and uplifting the hands that feed our nation.

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[From the web] Why we should not dance to Duterte and Arroyo’s Cha-Cha: Unpacking the neoliberal and authoritarian agenda behind federalism -Focus on the Global South

Since his presidential campaign in 2016, Rodrigo Duterte has promised to change the country’s form of government to federalism. Now, more than two years after he was elected President, the following proposals that seek to revise the constitution have been filed in Congress: (1) Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 8; (2) PDP-Laban Federalism Institute’s (FI) draft constitution; (3) summarized proposals from the House committee on constitutional amendments; (4) Bayanihan Federalism drafted by the Consultative Committee; and (5) RBH 15, primarily authored by former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The most prominent among these is Arroyo’s draft, which has been swiftly advanced for approval by its supporters in the House of Representatives. In fact, plenary debates on said proposal lasted for only three session days, despite 67 percent of Filipinos not being in favor of Charter Change (Cha-Cha) and 69 percent having little to no knowledge of the proposed federal system of government.

There are several compelling reasons to block these orchestrated efforts to revise the constitution. Essentially, the Duterte administration’s push for Cha-Cha and federalism is a populist authoritarian project that seeks to further consolidate wealth and power in the hands of the elite while appearing to cater to the interests of neglected and underdeveloped regions. This becomes clear once we deconstruct the Cha-Cha/federalism campaign and examine its aspects:

• Interests: The political actors behind revising the constitution, most notably Duterte and Arroyo, have long had ambitions to further entrench the neoliberal agenda and consolidate power and wealth in the hands of the elite and ruling class.
• Content: Being reflective of these interests, the proposed amendments essentially push the state towards having a more liberalized and globally integrated economy on the one hand, and an authoritarian government on the other.
• Context: Viewed within the larger context of a fascist administration, Duterte and Arroyo’s Cha-Cha can be regarded as the final, decisive step towards the administration’s dictatorship project.
• Propaganda: Meanwhile, the campaign’s politically motivated proponents are able to conceal these self-serving interests by giving emphasis to the problem of “Imperial Manila”—the perceived concentration of power, wealth, and resources in the region—and presenting federalism as the solution to the country’s ills.

Therefore, in order to uncover the authoritarian and neoliberal agenda driving the push for federalism through Cha-Cha, it is necessary to first examine and refute the populist ideas and approaches used as a veneer for the campaign.

Click the link below to read more.

Why we should not dance to Duterte and Arroyo’s Cha-Cha: Unpacking the neoliberal and authoritarian agenda behind federalism

Support #KarapatDapat na Agenda campaign! Click the video to know more.

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[Off-the-shelf] Focus Policy Review 2019: “Critical Junction: Derailing or Accelerating the Dictatorship Express” -Focus on the Global South

Focus Policy Review on the Progressive Agenda in the 2019 Elections and Beyond
This issue of the Focus Policy Review explores how the Duterte administration responded to key issues through its policies and action points. These responses, which in a nutshell are very neoliberal and authoritarian, fall under Duterte’s promised change at the beginning of his presidency. Thus, the underpinning question of the assessment that is directed to the electorate is this: “Is Duterte’s promised change still the change we want to pursue?”

Read more @

https://focusweb.org/publications/focus-policy-review-2019-critical-junction-derailing-or-accelerating-the-dictatorship-express/?fbclid=IwAR1pZnuFhySVZDLEHrWdeyrkpkb7pRQ-bULB307Pwkm1Nn30NlWl5lJUDFQ

Support #KarapatDapat na Agenda campaign! Click the poster to know more.

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[From the web] Civil society coalition slams anti-poor Manila Bay reclamation project -Focus on the Global South

Civil society coalition slams anti-poor Manila Bay reclamation project

Manila Bay Para sa Tao slams anti-poor reclamation project

A group composed of fisherfolk, non-government, women, urban poor, student organizations, and other civil society groups marched to the Department of Agriculture (DA) office today to campaign against the over 24,000-hectare reclamation of Manila Bay that is said to affect over 200,000 fisher families.

According to Manila Bay Para sa Tao, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), which is designated to safeguard the rights of local fishers under the Fisheries Code or Republic Act No. 10654, is mum to the issue of the massive Manila Bay reclamation and its grave impacts to fisher communities and the environment.

PANGISDA-Pilipinas, an organization advocating for the interests of small-scale fishers, maintained that the Manila Bay Reclamation Project is undoubtedly an attack against the poorest sector of the country—the fisherfolk. The conversion of fishing grounds to industrial and commercial use is tantamount to various forms of displacement and uprooting of small fishers from their very source of livelihood, identity, and life.

Read full article @focusweb.org

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[Statement] Trade Justice Pilipinas calls for the temporary withdrawal of EU trade preferences to the Philippines under GSP+

Trade Justice Pilipinas calls for the temporary withdrawal of EU trade preferences to the Philippines under GSP+

In the wake of worsening human rights situation in the Philippines under the Duterte administration, Trade Justice Pilipinas, a peoples network campaigning for just trade and investment policies calls on the European Union to withdraw special trade incentives granted to the Philippines under its Generalized System of Preferences or GSP+.

The Philippines was granted GSP+ status by the European Union in December 2014. The special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance otherwise known as GSP+ provides additional tariff preferences when exporting to the European Union to developing countries which are vulnerable due to a lack of diversification and insufficient integration within the international trading system.

The grant of these preferences to the Philippines was conditioned on its fulfillment of its obligations under 27 Human Rights and Labor Rights conventions. It therefore is clear from the start that in order to continue to benefit from the scheme the Philippine government must abide by its commitment to:

• Maintain ratification of the international conventions covered by GSP+
• Ensure their effective implementation
• Comply with reporting requirements
• Accept regular monitoring in accordance with the conventions
• Cooperate with the Commission and provide all necessary information

Under EU Regulations: “Where a GSP+ beneficiary country no longer fulfills the conditions, or withdraws any of its binding undertakings, the Commission shall be empowered to adopt a delegated act, in accordance with Article 36, to amend Annex III in order to remove that country from the list of GSP+ beneficiary countries.”

The regulations however allows for temporary withdrawal of the trade preferences for among others serious and systematic violation of principles laid down in the conventions.

Since the Duterte government assumed office in July 2016, the human rights situation in the Philippines has worsened. In the EU’s own global assessment of human rights and democracy (2016) it raised “serious concerns over the Duterte government’s war on drugs and the rising death toll, and more critically how the president’s statements and actions are encouraging a more aggressive approach by the police and vigilante-style extra judicial killings”.

To cite just a few major developments that indicate a worsening human rights condition in the Philippines: The notification of withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which it ratified in 2011; the tagging of around 600 activists as terrorists. The list included at one point UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz who has consistently championed human rights in the context of international treaties; the dismissal of charges against two known big time drug pushers, the continued attacks against human rights defenders, violations of ILO Core Conventions with the assassination of trade union organizers, violent dispersal of strikes, and the state’s continuing failure to address the strike of Citra Mina as mandated by the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association.

The latest worrying development is the continuing deliberations in Congress for the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility. A bill has already passed the lower house and is now being debated in the Senate. Duterte himself has made it clear that he is strongly pushing an amendment to the existing law on juvenile justice to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 years old. After getting strong negative reaction from the public, the bill approved by the lower house sets the minimum age to 12 from its original proposal to lower it down to 9 years old.

Once approved by Congress and signed by the President, the new law would according to EU’s own GSP+ monitoring assessment report, be “contrary to Philippine obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. While states parties, are legally bound to establish a minimum age ‘below which children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to infringe the penal law’ under the UN CRC, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends that “the minimum age should be at least 12 years, but preferably higher.”

We therefore call on the EU Commission to immediately commence the withdrawal procedure of the trade preferences granted under the GSP+ mechanism. #

Contact Joseph Purugganan for details:
josephp@focusweb.org
+639175460319

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[Video] End Impunity Now! – Focus on the Global South / iDEFEND

End Impunity Now!

In Asia today, the list of the disappeared, murdered, assaulted, harassed, imprisoned, and tortured continues to grow. The cases here are just a few of what have been documented, and with these Focus and the Global South and iDefend Philippines would like to add to the voices calling for end to impunity.

[Video] The Edsa Stories: June Keithley – focusweb.org

http://focusweb.org/edsav2/category/women/


Uploaded in youtube by edsastories

In February 1986, after the military knocked down the transmitter of Radio Veritas, the Catholic broadcast station that played a key role in the powerful uprising that dismantled Ferdinand Marcos‘ dictatorship and restored democracy in the Philippines, the station transferred to a secret location. It was June Keithley , together with Angelo Castro, who continued broadcasting in what was now called Radyo Bandido. She became the voice of that powerful medium; she was the broadcaster who kept everyone’s spirits alive and gave the people valuable information that helped them mobilize into a successful movement that brought down Marcos and his government.

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[Event/Off the shelf] Focus-Philippines’ Book launch and forum

Focus-Philippines launches its newest publication Transitions/Yearbook 2011 through a forum, One Year after P-Noy’s Election: Where/What are we Transitioning to? Invited speakers: Prof. Roland Simbulan; Dean Rene Ofreneo; Sec. Dinky Soliman (tbc); Ka Bobby Tañada (tbc); peasant leader Corazon Peña; labor leaders Wilson Fortaleza/Yuen Abana

Focus offers a one- time huge discount on the first sale of Transitions — P250 only per copy! Regular price after launch is P350.
Location:  Anabel’s Tomas Morato, Quezon City, Philippines
Contact Person and Details:

Please RSVP to Lou, Menchie or Clark at 433-0899 or 355-2578 or through lou_torres@focusweb.org; menchie@focusweb.org; or cvmilitante@focusweb.org.