Lamy not welcome in Manila


MAKATI CITY, PHILIPPINES- Vowing to let Pascal Lamy hear the loud cries of poor sectors, farmers and fishers gate crashed and disrupted a meeting today organized by Philippine business with World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Pascal Lamy.


Around 5 leaders representing major national coalitions and networks campaigning against the WTO, unfurled a banner that reads LAMY GO HOME, after Lamy delivered his address to a crowd of government officials and representatives of business. 


The leaders were immediately accosted by hotel security and violently dragged out of the hotel and shoved back to the streets.  As the activists were trying to wrestle their banner off the hands of hotel security, loud shouts of Lamy Go Home, Lamy Go Home echoed throughout the hall.   

They later joined the picket of around 400 people outside the posh New World-Renaissance Hotel located in Makati City the Philippines business district, and continued their protest action. Lamy was portrayed in the street protest as the “whipping boy” of US president Bush and German Chancellor Merkel representing the EU attacking the interests of developing countries while Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo looked on, more worried about not pleasing the visiting dignitary than the cries of poor sectors for protection and support. 


In the meeting, Lamy once again talked about the strong signals of support that he has been getting among political and business leaders around the world for the full resumption of multilateral trade talks. Lamy seemed optimistic and confident that countries like the Philippines, whose development he said is highly dependent on trade, would be able to make the necessary commitment and action to move the negotiations forward and conclude the round the soonest possible time.


Lamy’s remarks at the meeting, indeed his whole trip to Indonesia and the Philippines has been viewed by many as an attempt to soften the position of these two countries that are the erstwhile leaders of the G33 grouping of developing countries in the WTO. 


If the Philippine government wavers on its position on the crucial issues of special products and special safeguards mechanism in agriculture and flexibilities for developing countries in the NAMA negotiations, the livelihoods of small farmers, fishers and job security of workers would further be threatened by liberalization.  These sectors would no longer have any serious recourse against the onslaught of cheap highly subsidized imported goods.  A surrender by the Philippines of its position on SP/SSM and NAMA would seriously undermine all the efforts to push for these protection and flexibilities and to demand policy space for developing countries. 


The Philippine government has so far issued no public statements on its negotiating position but we have received reports that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has indicated to key cabinet secretaries that the Philippines should not be a stumbling block to the Doha negotiations.