Thursday, December 15, 2005

Filipinos lead biggest Anti-WTO protest group

15 December 2005

Hong Kong - More than a hundred Manila-based Filipino militants will be
expected to be joined by tens of thousands of overseas Filipino workers
(OFWs ) based in this city in a mammoth rally at Victoria Park on Sunday
that will mark the close of the World Trade Organization (WTO) 6th
Ministerial Conference.

The Filipino contingent, which will include those both based in Manila
and those working in Hong Kong, is expected to be the biggest delegation
in the rally, which will also include Nepalis, Bangladeshis, Koreans,
Malaysians, Indonesians, Taiwanese, Chinese, Americans, British, and
other nationalities.

The International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS), the Resist WTO!
Network, Bayan, and Bayan Muna expect another "collapse" of the WTO
talks as in Seattle and Cancun.

Tens of thousands of Filipino workers in Hong Kong, mostly domestic
helpers, belong to the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-HK). Unifil
is a member-organization of the Hong Kong People's Alliance (HKPA),
which oversees the weeklong protests and hosts the bulk of Manila-based
activists who have come to the city.

"This will be a show of force of the Philippine mass movement and an
_expression of solidarity with other organizations and nationalities who
are also batting for the junking of the WTO," said Resist WTO! Network
spokesperson Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna.

According to Casiño, the Philippines would be in a better position if
the WTO talks collapse in Hong Kong. "As of now, the U.S. and E.U. are
fighting over the billions in dollars of farm subsidies. If they decide
to radically reduce or eliminate all such subsidies in the Third World,
while protecting their own farmers, agricultural nations such as ours
will suffer immensely. Our bleeding agriculture will die swiftly."

Migrant organizations like Migrante, Migrante Sectoral Party, and
Unifil-HK also oppose the new round of talks due to the proposal to
impose the so-called "Mode 4" provision that would liberalize "human
resources exchange".

Migrante chair Connie Bragas said that Mode 4 would result in reduced
wages and salaries for OFWs and the loss of what remains of their legal
rights and privileges. "The devastating WTO effects on our families are
already the reason why more Filipinos work abroad. Now, the scourge of
the WTO is proposed to be unleased on OFWs. We are strongly against it
and that is another reason why we will join the protests on Sunday."

Activist leaders who will be at the frontlines of the Sunday march are
Bayan Chair and ILPS Vice Chair Dr. Carol Pagaduan Araullo; Reps. Satur
Ocampo and Casiño of Bayan Muna; Anakpawis Reps. Rafael Mariano and
Crispin Beltran; Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Liza Maza; Kilusang Mayo
Uno Chair Elmer Labog, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Secretary
General Danilo Ramos; Pamalakaya Chair Fernando Hicap; Kabataan
Partylist Chair Raymond Palatino; Gabriela Secretary General Emmi de
Jesus; Alliance of Concerned Teachers Chair Antonio Tinio; Health
Alliance for Democracy Secretary General Dr. Gene Nisperos; Agham chair
Dr. Giovanni Tapang; Kalikasan Philippine Network for the Environment
leader Clemente Bautista; College Editors Guild of the Philippines
President Jose Cosido; and a host of other leaders.

The Filipino activists are now revving up and upping the ante of
protests through fora, tribunals and symposia, as well as film-showings,
across three pavillions or giant tents maintained around the clock at
Victoria Park. ###

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