Various non-governmental organizations and activist groups representing different sectors and grassroots communities, convened this week to form a coordinating network that will engage the 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) and organize a parallel and alternative to the APEC Summit dubbed “Peoples’ Forum on APEC 2015 (PFA 2015)”. The Philippines is the host and chair of APEC this year.
“We want to maximize the opportunity that the APEC Summit meeting in Manila provides to amplify our critique of the geo-political and economic agenda being advanced by APEC and utilize the space to advance peoples’ alternatives on regional integration,” PFA 2015 Overall Coordinator Eduardo Tadem said.
“Our critique is anchored on the agenda of exposing the ‘false promises of APEC’ and how its agenda will not lead to inclusive development,” Tadem adds. “We will articulate our resistance to the corporate agenda of APEC, highlight the economic, financial, environment and climate crisis driven by the pursuit of the neo-liberal economic agenda of APEC’s corporate and elite interests and draw the spotlight on widening socio-economic inequalities in the region.”
The APEC 2015 will culminate with the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Manila on November 18-19 later this year. The group intends to hold the alternative APEC a day before the said meeting, on November 17 and mobilize thousands for a rally on November 18, the opening day of the Summit.
People’s Forum on APEC 2015 (PFA 2015)
While APEC as a regional trade bloc is a positive development for the region’s big business interests with support from their respective governments, civil society and NGOs see this development otherwise.
“Since 1996 when the first APEC Summit Meeting was held in Manila, people’s organizations, civil society and NGOs put forward its critique of the APEC agenda through a counter-summit known as the Manila People’s Forum on APEC,” Tadem said in the PFA 2015 statement. “In this counter-summit, the groups that participated recognized the importance of trade and rules to govern trade but opposed the kind of trade represented by the APEC process of global economic integration in service of a corporate agenda and at the expense of the human rights, dignity and well-being of the peoples of this region.”
APEC’s “social face” projection portrayed by the Philippine government in 1996 was immediately washed-out and its real face emerged when it denied entry and participation to Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta; repressed any form of protest for the duration of the APEC meetings; and, demolished urban poor homes including the forced removal of hundreds of thousands of poor people from Manila so that the corporate and political elites attending APEC will not be disturbed by seeing them.
For the Peoples’ Forum on APEC 2015, people’s and social movements, civil society and NGOs will highlight the economic, financial, environment and climate crisis issues but drawing the spotlight on the inequalities in the region despite development of some member countries and APEC as an instrument of corporate and elite interests.
Therefore, themes and campaigns of the People’s Forum on APEC will be along these highlighted issues: Trade, Investment and Finance, Climate and Environment, Social Impacts (class, gender and empowerment), Peace and Security and Democracy and Human Rights.
The initial list of members of the PFA 2015 Coordinating Group include: Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), Focus on the Global South (Focus), Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), Network for Transformative Social Protection (NSTF), Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP), Sanlakas, Jubillee South (JS), Transform Asia, Stop the War, Phils., Alab Katipunan, NGO Forum on the Asian Development Bank, Socialista , Kilusan, Woman Health, Piglas Kababaihan, Partido Manggagawa (PM), Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang taga-Lungsod (KPML), World March for Women, Foodfirst Information and Action Network (FIAN-Phils). -30-