BAGUIO CITY (Jan. 26)—Cordillera progressive organizations condemned the agreements on anti-terrorism and agriculture forged among ASEAN governments including the Philippines during the recently concluded summit in Cebu.
Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Chairperson Beverly Longid is wary over the recently forged ASEAN convention on anti-terrorism signed last January 16 saying that it would even worsen the already escalating political killings in the country.
“This is really a cause for alarm especially to legitimate progressive organizations the Arroyo government has tagged as terrorist organizations,” Longid stressed adding that most victims of political killings are members and supporters of these organizations.
Longid iterated that the covenant does not have a clear definition of a terrorist or a terroristic act. “It could be any organization or anybody who is critical of the government,” she said. She added that the forging of the anti-terror covenant is the latest effort of the United States to protect its political and economic hegemony in Asia specifically with ASEAN members.
Longid explained that with the forging of the agreement, anti-terror measures would now be implemented at the regional level. “The government would ram through its anti-terror policies at a regional scale which would further lead to escalation of human rights violation. Worst than what we’ve seen in the past and now, under the Arroyo administration,” she said.
Longid also criticized Task Force Usig pronouncements that progressive organizations’ data on victims of political killings are bloated. “Task force Usig does not have the right to say that. This only shows the inconsistency of the task force’s investigation. What would the mass movement gain from bloating the number of victims?” she stressed
Longid further said that all the cases of harassment, human rights violations and killings against members and leaders of legitimate progressive organizations are properly documented.
Longid also criticized National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez for seeking the disqualification of progressive partylists from the coming May elections and for pursuing rebellion charges against representatives of said partylists. She added that Gonzales’ accusations against the said party lists that include Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela are all recycled charges.
Gonzales has been accusing Bayan Muna of financing the militant armed group New People’s Army (NPA). He has also been tagging legitimate people’s organizations as terrorist groups.
CPA and its allied organizations will continue to support the five progressive partylists, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan and Suara Bangsa Moro and other candidates who they think will attend to the concerns of the masses.
As this developed, Alyansya dagiti Pesante iti Taeng Kordilyera (Apit Tako) Spokesperson Fernando Bagyan said the ASEAN agreement on agriculture would only worsen the impoverished state of small farmers in the country. He cited as an example the government’s bilateral agreement with China to invest P240 billion worth of agricultural projects. He explained that because of the failure of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to forge agreements on agriculture, more developed countries resorted to bilateral agreements.
Bagyan iterated that the Arroyo administration facilitated the entry of tons of imported vegetables to the country that would stamp out small farmers. He said Cordillera farmers are at the losing end on the said agreement, despite news that China would open its market for fruits from the Philippines. “Only multi-national companies like Dole would benefit from this agreement,” he stressed.
Bagyan added that the agricultural agreement has adverse impact on the country’s food security as crops would be produced for export purposes and not for local consumption. He said the agreement included the importation of vegetables from neighboring countries and the development of 200,000 hectares for rice, corn and sorghum production to be exported to East Asian countries that are experiencing insufficiency in food.
Bagyan iterated that instead of forging agreements with more advanced countries, the Arroyo government should instead adopt a genuine and pro-farmer agriculture policy. He said the government should develop agriculture technology and utilize traditional crops and agriculture practices for the Filipino people and not for export.
He said that Apit Tako is not against trade per se, but not at this point when the agriculture industry is struggling. # Pam Aniceto & Kim Quitasol for NORDIS