The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), a mega-regional free trade agreement being negotiated by the 10-member ASEAN regional bloc and its FTA partners China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand held its 18th round of talks May 2-12 in Manila, Philippines. The RCEP talks gained more prominence recently in the wake of the US’ withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement or TPPA and the strong push from countries like Japan, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand to bring TPP standards to the RCEP negotiating table.
In the recent[c1] “RCEP 18th Round of Talks,” members of civil society organizations and social movements presented their positions vis-à-vis the RCEP during the official Stakeholders’ Engangement, focusing on its impacts on trade, labor, and resources. They argued against the RCEP as it will give more power to already powerful corporations while making worse the state of employment and labor conditions for workers.
Statement from iDEFEND on the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the Philippines
On Tuesday night, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law on the entire Mindanao Island while on a state visit in Russia, following the fighting between the military and the Maute group.
It has to be clarified that the clashes were triggered by law enforcement operation in Marawi. This is a situation started by the government itself. Similarly, the Maute group is a local terrorist group, and not ISIS, even as the former tries to ally itself with ISIS.