QUEZON CITY – The Freedom from Debt Coalition held its 11th National Congress last 17-19 August 2010 at the Hotel Rembrandt here under a six-year (2011-2016) theme, dubbed “Consolidating consensus, advancing people’s struggles and building alternatives.” With 247 official delegates, the FDC Congress also elected its new set of officers and members of the Board of Trustees for the next three years.

Elected FDC President is Ricardo “Ric” Reyes, a former FDC Trustee (2000-2002) and vice president (2002-2005). Reyes served as executive director of Partnership for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (PARRDS) from 2001-2005, chair of Padayon from 1999-2003, national chair of Akbayan from 2003-2006, and coordinator of Laban ng Masa in 2006. Currently, he is the vice president of Food First International (FIAN) Philippines, and a member of the Institute of Popular Democracy where he was a board member and fellow from 2002-2006.

In an email message, outgoing FDC president Walden Bello congratulated the new officers and trustees of the Coalition.

“I really found my three years as president a very productive one.  Thank you for that experience,” Bello said. “FDC is one of the few organizations that has combined a determined activism with a high degree of professionalism.  You have become the experts in every area you have gone into. I am sure that the new leadership will continue this great tradition.”

“You can be sure that I will continue to pursue our partnership in Congress,” Bello added.

Vice presidents

The Coalition also elected five vice presidents, namely – Lidy Nacpil, Mae Buenaventura, Emmanuel Hizon, Arze Glipo, and Manjette Lopez.

An internationally recognized anti-debt activist, Lidy Nacpil has served various elective positions in the Coalition. She was the Coalition’s secretary-general before she was elected as one of the vice presidents during the 9th and 10th FDC National Congresses. She was the international coordinator of the Jubilee South, a network of anti-debt coalitions in more than 60 countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Currently, she is the regional coordinator of the Jubilee South – Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD).

Mae Buenaventura, on the other hand, first joined FDC as a staff and subsequently became the coordinator of the Publications and Public Information Program in 2001-2004. She also worked at JS-APMDD from 2004-2006. Since 2007, she is part of the coordinating team of the FDC Women’s Committee.

Coming from the ranks of student activists is Emman Hizon who has been working with the Coalition since 1997, initially as a member of its Youth and Students’ Advocacy Group. In 2006, he officially joined the FDC secretariat as part of the Debt and Public Finance team which he eventually headed in 2007 until February this year. Hizon, a member of BISIG, currently heads the Media and Communications Group of the Akbayan Party.

Arze Glipo, a soft-spoken yet a staunch critic of neo-liberalism, is currently the executive director of the Integrated Rural and Development Foundation (IRDF), the regional coordinator of Asia-Pacific Network for Food-Sovereignty (APNFS), and the lead convenor of Task Force Food Sovereignty (TFFS). She served as a Provincial Board member of Sorsogon from July 2004 to June 2010 and as FDC’s assistant treasurer since 2008.

Veteran activist Manjette Lopez has been in the movement since 1969, and has been an organizer-campaigner since 1972 and a member of FDC since its founding. Currently, she is the secretary-general of Sanlakas.

Tanchuling re-elected as sec-gen

The FDC Congress likewise re-elected Milo Tanchuling as secretary-general, and elected Chona Lea Ramos and Mary Bugarin as treasurer and assistant treasurer, respectively.

Milo Tanchuling has been the secretary-general of FDC since 2005. He is the current chairperson of the Foundation for Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI), Soriano Multipurpose Fiber Corporation, and COCOBIND Corporation. He also sits as a Board Member in various organizations and formations such as the Philippine Network of Rural Development Institutes, Inc. (PhilNet-RDI) which he once headed as its chief executive officer from 1996 to 2005, Panay Rural Development Center Incorporated (PRDCI), Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS), Inc., and Women's Institute for Sustainable Economic Action Inc. (WISE ACT). He is also a member of the Regional Committee of the JS-APMDD, the Advisory Committee of the United Nations Civil Society Assembly, and the Technical Working Group on Finance of the Philippine Delegation to Climate Change Negotiation.

Chona Lea Ramos was the coordinator of Global Call to Action against Poverty – Southeast North and Central Asia (GCAP-SENCA) secretariat from 2006-2009. Before this, she worked with Oxfam-Great Britain since 1996, first as program assistant and eventually as program coordinator/officer from 1999-2003.

Mary Bugarin, meanwhile, has served as finance officer of the FDC national secretariat for 12 years before deciding to become a freelancer late last year.

Members-at-large

In an emergency meeting during the Congress, the Board of Trustees decided to increase the number of seats for member organizations and individuals, from five to seven seats.

After the nomination and with so many organizations and individuals vying for the seats, a move to provide automatic seats for two women organizations and for two women individual nominees in the Board was approved by the body. The two organizations are Sarilaya and Kaisa-Ka, while the two individuals are Becky Lozada and Maris Dela Cruz.

The Congress elected the following member organizations: Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA); Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM); Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML); Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Transportasyon (PMT); and, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL).

Also elected are the following individuals: singer-composer Noel Cabangon; environmentalist-writer Red Constantino; lawyer Luke Espiritu; former FDC Cebu secretary-general Lito Vasquez; and, labor leader Teody Navea.

Honorary members

The Congress also affirmed a 2007 Board Resolution naming the following as honorary members of the Board of Trustees: Prof. Leonor Briones; Ma. Teresa “Maitet” Diokno-Pascual; Ana Maria “Princess” Nemenzo; Filomeno “Men” Sta. Ana; Former Rep. Rene Magtubo of Partido ng Manggagawa; Former Rep. Mario “Mayong” Aguja of Akbayan Party; Former Rep. Jose Virgilio “JV” Bautista of Sanlakas Party-list; and, Former Sen. Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada.

A resolution was also approved to include former and current Akbayan Party representatives – Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Etta Rosales, and Walden Bello – as honorary members of the Board.

Delegates

Of the 247 official delegates to the 11th FDC National Congress: 14 individuals were from the six active political blocs – BISIG, Kalayaan, Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD), Pandayan, Partido ng Manggagawa, and Sanlakas; 19 delegates from seven FDC chapters; 45 from 31 national organizations; 15 from 13 regional organizations; 103 from 103 local organizations; and, 51 individual members. ###

FDC Chapters

chapters