Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) Chairperson Rafael Mariano speaks at the protest in front of the Department of Agriculture last May 21, 2015 against the visit of World Trade Organization secretary general Roberto Azevedo's visit to the Philippines.

PH farmers protest WTO chief’s visit

WTO’s “free trade” is euphemism for monopoly

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today picketed the Department of Agriculture (DA) in time for World Trade Organization (WTO) director general Roberto Azevedo’s visit to the Philippines.

Azevedo is set to attend meetings with high-level government representatives today and delivers a speech at an event organized by the Asian Development Bank. On Saturday, May 23, the WTO chief will attend Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) Minister Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting in Boracay.

KMP secretary general Antonio Flores said that “Azevedo’s attendance in these meetings clearly demonstrates that trade talks within the US-dominated APEC are all in accord with the full-scale neoliberal trade agenda.”

“The WTO chieftain is set to ensure that the complete eradication of protectionism and the removal of all barriers to trade liberalization will be the general framework of the APEC in favour of advanced capitalist countries like the US.  It is also the same anti-people framework and agenda behind the US’ persistent push for the Philippines to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement,” Flores said.

“Under the WTO’s undemocratic system, the term ‘free trade’ has turned out to be a euphemism for monopoly of advanced capitalist countries,” Flores said.

Flores said that the widespread land-grabbing and forced eviction of farmers is the worst impact of neoliberal trade liberalization policy in the country’s agriculture.

“Since the Philippines’ membership to the WTO, the government implemented the full-scale liberalization and deregulation in agriculture that led to the massive flooding of imported food and other agricultural products in the country,” Flores said.

He cited that “in 2007, the government imported 1.8 million metric tons of rice. At the end of 2007, the government had an end stock of 2.17 million MT and in the year 2008, the government imported 2.4 million MT. In 2010, the government ordered 2.45 million MT of rice.”

“Last year, an estimated 2.85 million MT of rice was imported by the government resulting to the steep drop in prices of our locally produced rice,” the peasant leader said adding, “ the average price of farmers palay (unhusked rice) is now pegged at P14 per kilogram.”

The KMP said that the Aquino government’s over-reliance to imported food has resulted to widespread landgrabbing in the form of land-use conversion, land speculation, and crops conversion.

“The WTO and its so-called free trade destroyed our country’s food self-sufficiency and food security,” the KMP said. #