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ASEAN Integration, mockery of World Food Day, PH farmers say

On the occasion of the United Nations-declared World Food Day today, the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) picketed the Department of Agriculture opposing the planned participation of the Philippines to next year’s ASEAN integration, calling it “a mockery of World Food Day and gateway to intense land-grabbing, hunger, and poverty.”

KMP chair Rafael Mariano said “economic liberalization, particularly tariff and eco-tourism liberalization” under the proposed Asean integration would have dire impacts on the still backward Philippine agriculture.

“We fear that land-grabbing, hunger, and poverty would worsen under the Asean integration’s full-scale economic liberalization. The Asean Integration is a mockery of World Food Day,” Mariano said.

Mariano noted that “the reduction of the current 30-40 percent tariffs to 5 percent up to the total removal of tariffs would flood the local market with highly-subsidized agricultural products of Asean nations like Vietnam and Thailand.”

“While other Asean nation’s agricultural produce, like the politically sensitive rice are subsidized by their governments, Filipino farmers suffer from the Aquino government’s lack of support. We shoulder the skyrocketing costs of production, and high-land rent, among others. In fact, agricultural funds are being plundered en masse under the Aquino regime’s continuing pork barrel system,” Mariano said.

“Our local produce is helpless from the flooding of imported agricultural produce,” the peasant leader said.

He also warned of rampant conversion of agricultural lands and coastal communities with the proposed eco-tourism liberalization.

“At present, tens of thousands of farmers were displaced due to the Aquino government’s eco-tourism projects,” Mariano said citing, among others, the case of farmers and fishers in Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas that is being developed into the Hamilo Coast by the Henry Sy-owned SM Lands, Inc. and the plight of farmers in Hacienda Dolores in Porac, Pampanga being developed into the Alviera by Ayala Land.

Worst, Mariano said, the country’s participation to the Asean integration would lead to the proliferation of “anomalous and graft-ridden projects” like the Metro Rail Transit -7 project from North Avenue EDSA up to San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan awarded by the Aquino administration to presidential uncle, Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr’s. San Miguel Corporation.

The KMP also scored the United States as among the main beneficiary of the Asean Integration saying the plan would pave the way for a bigger and wider economic liberalization agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) being pushed by the US.

“The Filipino people must oppose the sell-out of the country’s national patrimony and sovereignty through the Aquino government’s participation to the proposed Asean Integration tantamount to a gateway to the US-instigated TPPA,” Mariano said. #

KMP National Secretariat
217-B Alley 1 Road 7, Project 6, Quezon City
Telephone: +63(2)456-5727
Follow us: @kmp_phl