Bali, Indonesia — Leaders of Philippine civil society organizations came to Bali on the occasion of the 9th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization to pressure their government to suspend all its commitments to the WTO and other free trade agreements in the aftermath of supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda. To put across the message to their government, Filipino women led a flashmob in the open area between the Main Convention Building and the NGO Centre, at 12 noon today.  In the middle of the song, the women leaders took off their formal wear and revealed shirts with slogans “Climate Justice Now! End WTO.”

“It is important to give the Philippines a free hand in addressing the humanitarian crisis,” said Josua Mata, Secretary General of 80,000-strong labor group SENTRO, who was present in the flashmob.  Mata’s organization suffered 41 deaths of members in the devastated areas, while 100 are still missing and 3,000 have lost their homes.  Haiyan claimed more than 5,000 lives in the Philippines.

From Warsaw to Bali, Jubileeo South APMDD Coordinator Lidy Nacpil carried forward the call for climate justice, “The flattening of entire towns and cities in Central Visayas as a result of the supertyphoon was a wake-up call to governments, including our own, to prioritize the issue of climate crisis.” Jubilee South has been calling for deep cuts in carbon emissions especially by Northern countries.

Only 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of carbon emissions in the world, according to The Guardian. “The WTO has historically defended corporate interests, against that of the people. We have had enough and call for an end to WTO,” said Jean Enriquez, National Coordinator of the World March of Women (WMW).  Enriquez came to Bali from a series of relief missions in Central Philippines.  “The government could not even coordinate its disaster response, it ought to focus on the recovery of our country instead of committing further to WTO,” added Enriquez.

Mary Ann Manahan, Program Officer of Focus on the Global South, remarked, “The WTO is not interested in curbing emissions and shifting to low-carbon future, because free trade and investment run on OIL and other fossil fuels.”

The leaders also included Ana Maria Nemenzo from WomanHealth Philippines, Hazel Cotoner from Center for Migrants Advocacy, Rebecca Miranda of the National Rural Women’s Coalition, and others who are initiating actions inside and outside the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center. Anti-WTO activists from the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance – US, Polaris Institute – Canada, World Development Movement – UK, Korea Women Peasants’ Association, supported the action by chanting “Philippines, defend your people’s interests!” and “Climate Justice Now, End WTO!”