By Via Cheri de Venezia, The Pamalakaya Times Europe Bureau Chief
Rome, Italy (via PLDT)- Some 250 activists from more than 100 countries who gathered in Rome, Italy for the Peoples Conference on Food Sovereignty signed a petition urging the United Nations led Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO)to investigate alleged destruction of country´s food sources,according to Antonio Flores, of the Kilusang Magbububkid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
The petition was authored by KMP, the left’leaning fisherfolk alliancePa Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and peasant women grouyp Amihan.
Flores said the activists who supported their petition were from United States, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Hongkong, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Martinique, Ghana,South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Peru,Pakistan, Palestine, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Cuba,Finland, Iceland, Russia and 50 other countries.
“We hope the UN-FAO will find merit to our rural people’s petition for a international inquiry on massive destruction, privatization and conversion of food sources courtesy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her transnational clients,” the KMP official added.
Pamalakaya information officer Gerry Albert Corpuz who was part of the militant contingent in the conference on food sovereignty said activists from different nations agreed with the proposal for UN-FAO to send a high level delegation to the country to investigate what he called “transnational takeover, corporate plunder and environmental destruction of food sources in the name of super profits by international and domestic big business all over the country.”
“The strong clamor for UN-FAO high profile probe of FAO on the current state of food sources all over the archipelago has been re-echoed to UN.FAO top officials and international opinion makers. We want FAO to discover that the phenomenon of climate change or global warming and its particularity in the Philippines is a result of monopolies’ eternal thirst and greed for super profits and the Arroyo administration’s uncontrollable greed for fat kickbacks,” Corpuz said.
The UNFAO’s World Food Summit is expected to gather 400 food based groups and food rights activists in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Central America and North America. The possible topics to be discussed in the 6-day conference will include food aid, climate change and climate justice.
The Pamalakaya information chief said the groups cited “major cases in the Philippines’ where food production areas are destroyed and the land, water and production rights of the people are grossly violated in the name of globalization and transnational plunder.
Among the cases the Philippine rural-based groups had mentioned in their petition were the case of small fisherfolk currently displaced by foreign funded projects in Manila Bay, the corporate destruction of Laguna Lake, the 64 offshore mining activities off the waters of Tanon Strait (Cebu-Negros), Cebu-Bohol Strait, Palawan, Panay Island, Ragay Gulf in Bicol region and other parts of Mindanao, the unabated large scale logging activities in Sierra Madre, the left-and-right landgrabbing and land use conversions in the country and the proliferation of destructive dams in the tradition of San Roque Dam in Pangasinan among others.
Pamalakaya also raised in their petition the issues of Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) among the Philippines, China and Vietnam, the setting up of ASEAN gas pipeline cornering the waters of the Philippines, China, Malaysia and Singapore and the controversial $ 110-million ExxonMobil offshore mining and gas exploration activity in Sulu sea, which the group said will destroy the country’s major sources of fish and other water-based food products.
The militant groups noted that in 1996, the first World Food Summit also held in Rome produced global commitment to substantially reduce the number of hungry and malnourished people by 2015. The FAO itself admitted that over 2 billion of the world’s population is suffering food insecurity, hunger and starvation.
They said the destruction of food production areas through private appropriation and conversion resulted to decline of food produced for global people’s consumption and on the other hand led to sharp increases in the prices of major food items such as rice (increased by 217 percent), wheat (up by 136 percent), corn (125 percent increase) and soya beans (117 percent increase).
Also in their petition, the groups and allitook into account that food imports of third world countries like the Philippines rose by 27 percent in 2007, which Pamalakaya said is not unusual given the absence of genuine land reform and the backwardness of local agriculture in the country, and the massive conversion and privatization of agricultural lands and fishing grounds all over the country. #