Filipino activists to gather support for OFW Veloso, vs TPPA at ASEAN NGO confab in Malaysia

20150421_091556Representatives of people’s organizations and rights groups in the Philippines and migrant organizations are set to participate in the ASEAN People’s Forum 2015, a gathering of grassroots organizations, NGOs and institutions in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on April 22-24.

Rina Anastacio, Vice Chairperson of Migrante International and a member of the delegation, said they will gather support for Migrante’s petition to stop the execution of overseas Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso, who is on death row in Indonesia after being mistakenly charged of drug trafficking. Questions on the judicial process in Indonesia, from her trial to conviction, were previously raised by Veloso’s family, rights groups, Filipino Catholic bishops, lawyers and the United Nations Human Rights Council. The petition will be submitted to the ASEAN foreign ministers, Anastacio said.

Veloso is the eighth OFW put on death row under Aquino administration. Seven have already been executed before her, earning for the Aquino regime the stature of having the most number of OFW executions since the Philippine Labor Export Policy was hatched in 1970.

“The labor export policy will be increasingly promoted with greater integration of ASEAN, through agreements and policies being set and implemented by ASEAN states that will worsen the joblessness and lack of social protection of workers and encourage the diaspora of people in South East Asia to other countries where they have been suffering low wages and gross rights violations,” said Eni Lestari, chairperson of the International Migrants Alliance and a plenary speaker in the APF.

ASEAN Economic Community and unequal trade agreements, boon to people’s rights in PH and SEA

Women’s rights group Tanggol Bayi will participate in events pertaining to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), one of the three pillars of the ASEAN Community stipulated in the Bali Concord II, to raise concerns on the impact of economic integration policies to the rights of the poor and marginalized people in the Philippines and in South East Asia.

Cristina Palabay, convenor of Tanggol Bayi and secretary general of Karapatan, said the AEC policies will erode the sovereignty of peoples in South East Asia and increase the liberalization and deregulation of trade, services and investments hewed to the interests of US, China and other developed countries. “Social services such as health and education will be increasingly privatized, land and other resource grabs will worsen, and domestic small and medium enterprises will be dwarfed by foreign investors,” Palabay stated.

Ramon Bultron, executive director of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants, said implementation of the AEC policies will further US hegemony in the SEA. “The AEC policies will enhance the implementation of agreements made in the US-driven World Trade Organization. It will also enable the US and its geo-political and corporate interests to dominate over the region, supporting its imperialist design in Asia and the Pacific as outlined in the US Pivot to Asia,” Bultron said.

Bultron and Palabay, both participants at the APF, are also involved in the campaign against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, another US-led trade agreements which include SEA States. “The TPPA will increase privatization of state-owned enterprises, facilitate plunder of SEA countries lands and resources by foreign entities, and subvert the sovereignty of peoples by giving unbridled powers and access to transnational and multinational corporations,” they said.

Gabriela secretary general Joms Salvador, representatives from Amihan and the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) will also participate in the APF. ###