Bangkok - 14 October 2011. As floods continued to rise and threaten to spread to other vulnerable parts of the Thai capital, participants from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia gathered at the first civil society workshop on carbon markets in Bangkok. They called attention to how CDM failed to reduce emissions through projects being implemented under the scheme that are producing more environmental harm, such as hydropower dams. They wanted a stronger role for civil society in the CDM validation and implementation process, and to set up a grievance mechanism, particularly a venue for public scrutiny throughout project implementation.
Food sovereignty to peasants, small farming families, fisher folks and other marginalized local communities—this was the call made by the Land Research Action Network and Focus on the Global South, as close to a billion people found themselves without enough food on their tables during World Food day, October 16. Ironically, for these people across the globe who suffer from hunger and malnutrition, there was no reason to celebrate the event, much less with a global food crisis that is expected to deepen even before it can be abated.
The Land Research Action Network (LRAN) and Focus on Global South released a study, on the occasion of World Food day, highlighting the causes of food crisis in recent years. Titled “Defending the Commons, Territories and the Right to Food and Water,” the study (LRAN Briefing Paper Series 2 and a Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform publication) underscores soaring food prices, land grabbing and climate change as key factors contributing to the worsening food crisis.
On August 18, legislators, government officers, civil society representatives and media workers converged in the Senate for the latest public hearing on the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill.
Presided over by Senator Gregorio Honasan, chair of the committee on public information and mass media, and later joined by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, the discussion was intended to educate the public on the latest developments in the FOI campaign, as well as draw out the positions of various stakeholders on the current drafts of the bill. Of special interest among most was the non-inclusion of FOI in the list of the priority bills filed by Malacañang after the second Legislative-Executive Development Council (LEDAC) meeting, August 16.
Officials of Malacañang’s communications team, Ramon Carandang and Manolo Quezon, were asked to explain on this non-inclusion. Other officials, notably those from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defence, also became subjects of further scrutiny due on exceptions on aspects of national security and diplomatic secrecy.
By Cecilia Olivet and Joseph Purugganan
EU-ASEAN FTA Campaign Network
On 20 and 21 September 2011, 40 ASEAN campaigners and experts met in Quezon City to participate in a Regional Forum on Investment organised by the EU-ASEAN FTA Campaign Network. During the two-day forum, participants shared knowledge and experiences, articulated common strategies and discussed alternatives to the current investment regime.
The presentations exposed how International Investment Agreements (IIAs), such as Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), pose a threat to economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, as well as to democracy and people’s sovereignty.
Anti-bases Activists, Senators Remember Bases Treaty Rejection; Renew Calls for Independent and Free Philippines
On September 16, the anti-US military bases movement in the Philippines, together with eight of the so-called Magnificent 12 senators, commemorated the 20th anniversary of the rejection of the 1947 RP-US Military Bases Agreement in 1991. The eight who made it to the event, which the Jose W. Diokno, Lorenzo Tañada and Renato Constantino Foundations organized, were former Senators Wigberto Tañada, Victor Ziga, Orlando Mercado, Ernesto Maceda Jr., Butz Aquino, Rene Saguisag, former Senator and Vice-president Teofisto Guingona Jr., former President Joseph Estrada and current Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. The son of deceased Senator Sotero Laurel also came to represent his father. Special guest speaker was Vice-president Jejomar Binay. The senators were honored with plaques of appreciation by the organizers. Even as the event was held in a celebratory mood, it also served as an opportunity for the members of the anti-bases movement to renew its call for a sovereign, independent and free Philippines amid continuing evidence of US infringement of this sovereignty through the presence of its soldiers, particularly in Mindanao.
Days before the commemorative event, WikiLeaks accounts have confirmed US military involvement in local defense and security actions. (See reports on Wikileaks accounts: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/-depth/09/14/11/wikileaks-cables-us-forces-directly-involved-mindanao-terror-hunt)
The Wikileaks accounts confirm too the reports that Focus on the Global South issued in 2007, "Unconventional Warfare," which documented US military involvement in direct combat in the Philippines—a violation of the Philippine constitution. (www.focusweb.org/pdf/unconventionalwarfare.pdf and www.focusweb.org/node/1293)
Piecing together documentary evidence from the US military as well as from eyewitness accounts, these reports were among the first to expose the presence of a special US unit called the Joint Special Operations Task Force which has been continuously deployed in Mindanao for the past 10 years, contrary to US and Philippine governments' denials running back to 2001. In 2008, Citizens' Peace Watch conducted a Fact Finding Mission that yielded similar evidence of US military structures in Zamboanga and the sighting of American soldiers in actual combat. The Task Force's presence in Mindanao has also recently been confirmed in an article in the Washington Post. (ttp://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/top-secret-america-a-look-at-the-militarys-joint-special-operations-command/2011/08/30/gIQAvYuAxJ_story.html)
The Wikileaks accounts validate Focus’ contention that the US and the Philippine governments have been engaged in an effort to cover up the nature of the deployment. According to the Wikileaks cables, US officials were instructed to deny involvement in combat when asked by the media.
In a press statement issued on September 16, Focus on the Global South said "Now that the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is under review in the Philippine Senate, it is critical for us in the people's movement that advocated and struggled against the US bases not only to pursue the implications of the Wikileaks reports but to elevate our struggle towards revising our foreign policy and put in place one that is principled, and that truly honors and promotes our independence and sovereignty as a people and nation.
The Philippine government, now under President Noynoy Aquino, cannot just have business-as-usual relations and engagement with the United States, enticing US economic investments while ignoring the implications of continued US military presence for our sovereignty and even our own security. The blatant disregard by the US government of Philippine law during the trial of the rape case filed by a Filipina against its soldiers in 2006 should remain a grim reminder of what the US can do to advance its interests."
Earlier that week, the Stop the War Coalition! Philippines, of which Focus is a member, held the forum “Partnership or Subservience? Reassessing Philippine-U.S. Military Relations,” where recent developments related to the ongoing review of the Visiting Forces Agreement under the P-Noy government was the main topic. The forum wanted to to generate public discussion on the 13-year old agreement and push for more immediate action on the part of the governments.
Page 1 of 23