Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development
ON WORLD PUBLIC SERVICES DAY
Asian movements join global call for tax justice
MANILA, 23 June 2015 – Calling for the funding for public services and the stopping of tax incentives and dodging, an Asian civil society alliance unites with the world’s largest labor, faith and other organizations today in celebration of World Public Services Day.
“Tax policies and systems should be aimed at raising resources for people’s basic and development needs, not as instrumental for ensuring more profits for corporations and the wealthy,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD), in a statement.
“Today, we claim the resources that are rightfully ours to support urgent needs for food, health, water, energy, climate adaptation and other social services vital to our well-being and the enjoyment of our basic rights. We demand tax justice as a key requisite to our survival, a life of dignity and a humane and sustainable future,” she added.
World Public Services Day is the culmination of the Global Week of Action for Tax Justice, led by the Global Alliance for Tax Justice and its regional network members, including APMDD. It kicked off with a rally last Tuesday, June 16, at the United Nations in New York, as the final round of UN development financing negotiations began. National actions have been organized around the world.
In solidarity, APMDD and its Philippine member organization Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) signed the Lima Declaration on Tax Justice and Human Rights. They also co-organized with other groups today a whole-day public forum today on the state of public services and human rights.
FDC also held protests against the water company Maynilad’s corporate income tax dodging last Tuesday, and against the MRT and LRT’s price hike last Wednesday.
“Successive administrations – including this government – have consistently prioritized in its annual spending automatic debt servicing, which eats up a huge chunk of the annual budget at the expense of the people’s needs and welfare,” said Sammy Gamboa, FDC secretary-general.
“Nowhere is the lamentable and deteriorating state of our public services dramatically portrayed than in the dilapidated and neglected state of our MRT system, the incessant rising rates of privatized power and water services, the corporatization of hospitals and the inadequate social protection programs, access to which have largely eluded those who are most in need,” he added.
The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (formerly Jubilee South–Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development) is a regional alliance of peoples' movements and organizations, coalitions, and non-governmental organizations. Its statement on World Public Services Day can be accessed at http://ow.ly/OETIJ.
JSAPMDD held two workshops as part of the week-long activities of the Social Movements for an Alternative Asia and the Indonesian National Coalition against Neoliberalism and Imperialism/Gerak Lawan which were timed with the 9th Ministerial of the World Trade Organization in Bali, Indonesia. The Global Week of Action from December 1-6, 2013 brought together peoples’ organizations and movements from different countries who highlighted the adverse impacts on people and communities, livelihoods and the environment of the corporate-ruled, free trade regime and resoundingly called for an end to the WTO. (See http://smaa.asia/action-plan-and-roadmap-to-bali/ and http://smaa.asia/endwto/gerak-lawan-social-movements-for-an-alternative-asia-will-take-to-the-street-on-the-opening-of-the-wtos-9th-ministerial-in-bali/ for more details)
The JSAPMDD-organized Forum on Trade and Climate Justice on December 5 made the the connections between trade and the climate crisis. It called attention to critical areas and issues for action and surfacing unities for coordinated advocacy and campaigning in the region.
The Freedom from Debt Coalition(FDC) goes on its third day of its Tatakan/Sulatan ng GANID the MERALCO bills protest activity today at 10 am before the MERALCO Kamuning, Quezon City Branch.
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FDC is calling on all consumers to express their outrage over the new power rate hike by writing or stamping on their MERALCO bills the word GANID ( Greed to Express Corporate Greed ). FDC also joins the initiative to wage a protest online through social media.
FDC welcomes the investigations by both houses of Congress into the highest MERALCO power rate hike so far but also warns of a trend in the ongoing official discussions on the issue to exculpate MERALCO and focus the inquiry only into the possible collusion by the major power plants in Luzon which went on almost simultaneous shutdowns along with the Malampaya maintenance shutdown this November-December period.
FDC also calls on the public to be especially critical of proposals coming from Malacanang and Congress to use the Malampaya fund to cover the new price increases. "This in effect will subsidize MERALCO's superprofits, not the consumers, who together with the entire Filipino people own Malampaya and who alone should benefit from royalties and other earnings which compose the Malampaya Fund," said Ricardo B. Reyes, FDC President.
Reyes also added that "MERALCO has not yet leveled even with the House Energy Committee hearing as to why the cost accruing from the Malampaya maintenance shutdown which is scheduled is not built into the power cost and the power rate in its Power Supply Agreement ( PSA ) with the natural gas power plants. Without this, MERALCO contracted imprudently and must bear the additional cost, not the consumers . It is interesting to note that trhe MERA:CO CEO, Oscar Reyes, failed to provide a clear answer when asked about this during yesterday's House hearing which FDC attended."
FDC said that the Congressional investigations are important because both the Energy Regulatory Commission ( ERC ) and Malacanang are now both compromised by their hasty acquiescence to the MERALCO decision. The ERC gave its go signal to the electricity price hike immediately after the MERALCO announcement without so much as conducting a public consultation, let alone a public hearing, although public interest is very much at stake here. Malacanang, through Presidential Spokesperson Sonny Coloma, also immediately justified MERALCO's moves as " reasonable " while Department of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla went out of his way to suggest that MERALCO stagger their price hike instead of finding ways to avert it. Such behavior seriously undermined the on-going DOE investigation into the power rate hike.
To the chant of “guilty, guilty, guilty!”, a “peoples’ tribunal” indicted the World Trade Organization yesterday for the “systematic violation of human rights, massive destruction of livelihoods and the environment, privatization and commodification of the commons and the violation of international law”.
The court specifically held to account and answer for widespread damages, private entities that Freeport Indonesia Ltd., PAM Lyonnais Jaya Ltd. and Aetra Air Jakarta Ltd., the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Donggi Senoro Liquid Natural Gas Ltd., Lafarge Cement Indonesia Ltd., Charoen Pokphand Indonesia Tbk., the mayor of Samarinda - Kalimantan, and corporations of coal and pesticides in Brebes, Central Java . It also decried “corporate impunity”, such that justice cannot be accessed in the current judicial system by grassroots people.
A group of Bangladeshi civil society members has urged global leaders to listen to the plights of climate victims and condemned industrialised countries for blocking a "loss and damage" mechanism in the UN climate change conference in Warsaw, Poland.
The mechanism is an arrangement that the most vulnerable countries were expecting to take shape in the conference. But it failed because of disagreement of some developed nations like Australia, Canada and Japan.
Bangladeshi civil society climate alliance asked world leaders to listen to the science and reach an agreement to save the planet from possible climate catastrophe by reducing carbon emission.
The call came at a press conference at the Warsaw National Stadium on Thursday.
In a statement, Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, on the group's behalf, said by delaying the legally binding agreement by 2015 and a road map towards climate financing of $100 billion by 2020, the developed countries were in fact giving death sentences to thousands of people of the least developed countries.
Ziaul Haque Mukta of Oxfam Asia, who moderated the press conference, criticised the attitude of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) as they were ignoring the spirit of the Kyoto Protocol by refusing to reduce their emission level.
BRICS leaders said reducing their carbon emission would hurt their development. Because of their refusal, many developed countries spoke against a new legally binding climate treaty.
Abdul Matin of BAPA criticised the colonial attitude of the rich and developed countries for not listening to the logics and even the science.
Asaduzaman of BIDS mentioned that parties in climate conference were bypassing the agriculture and sea acidification issues.
Published in The Daily Star.