PUBLISHED ON DECEMBER 16, 2011
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
The Philippines should get out of the World Trade Organization before it’s too late.
Peasant and fisherfolk organizations renewed this call recently during the 2nd Rural People’s Conference and Action against WTO and Imperialist Plunder in Quezon City. The activity was led by Anakpawis party list, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the Amihan peasant women federation and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA). The groups signed a manifesto asking the Aquino government to take Philippine agriculture out of WTO.
The anti-WTO conference was held this morning at the KKFI gym in Sampaloc, Manila and was attended by some 200 farmer and rural folk leaders. The first Rural People’s Conference against WTO was held in December 2001 in front of the United States Embassy in Manila.
In the manifesto signed by their respective leaders, the organizations said the country’s continuing involvement in the WTO has wrought irreparable and irreversible damage to local agriculture, as well as promoted massive landgrabbing.
KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said it is high time for the Philippine government to make a decisive stand against the 17-year old membership of the country in WTO.
“The Philippines has suffered 17 years of global and domestic landgrabbing, 17 years of dismal performance of local agriculture and 17 years of food insecurity, and extreme hunger and poverty. Our membership in the WTO has brought us nothing but hardship,” he said.
Ramos, who recently attended several conferences held in India and Republic of Korea this last quarter of 2011, campaigned for the abolition of WTO and convinced other farmer groups in Latin America, Europe, the African continent, South Asia and Southeast Asia to support the global demand for the junking of WTO and neo-liberal globalization policies.
He named several controversial cases of global land-grabbing in the Philippines under the WTO regime: that of the lease made by South Korean company Jeonnam Feedstock Limited over 94,000 hectares of land in Occidental Mindoro for corn production; the conversion being made by the Japanese firm Pacific BioFields Corp. and local firm BioEnergy Northern Luzon Inc. of over 600,000 hectares of public and non-disposable timberland in Pagudpud town in Ilocos Norte into coconut plantations; and the implementation of a $300-million banana export project of the NEH company of Bahrain and AMA Group facilitated by the government agency Philippine Agriculture Development and Commercial Corp. (PADCC) in 2010 covering 10,000 hectares.
“There are also reports that Qatar holds a lease of over100,000 hectares of Philippine water areas for agrofishery ventures. In the meantime, Saudi Arabia’s East Asia Development and Agricultural Investment Co. is eyeing a 500-hectare agricultural venture. They want to plant the area in Central Mindanao with basmati and jasmine rice varieties, as well as with high-value tropical fruits and vegetables,” he said.