10 November 2010
Debt & Public Finance
We in the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) condemn in strongest terms the forced deportation of several of our colleagues who are supposed to join social movements in Seoul, South Korea for activities during the G20 Summit on November 11-12, 2010. We believe that this is part of a coordinated strategy by the G20 to stifle the voices of citizens from impoverished and developing countries, in a final attempt to shut them off from this largely undemocratic exercise by the richest and most powerful nations of the world who want to decide on the fate of the globe.
We subsequently urge the Philippine government to demand an explanation from their Korean counterparts to why this violent and sudden intervention happened. Is it because the South Korean government doesn’t want its people to know what Filipinos have to say about what corporations from Korea and other G20 countries, with complicity from their governments, are doing in the Philippines and other poor and developing countries?
Let us cite a few examples in the Philippines context. The Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) – Salcon Power Corporation coal-fired power plant under construction along Barangay Colon, Naga in Cebu, touted as a “clean coal” technology, is being opposed by communities due to the “coal ash” which will be generated by the plant and affect the health of households. KEPCO also attempted to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), a mothballed project of the corrupt Marcos dictatorship sitting in a geologic fault-line, posing risk to communities of Central Luzon. Finally, state-run Korea Water Resources Corporation would have owned by now the Angat Dam Hydro-electric Power Plant (HEPP) and put into its hands 97 per cent water supply of the country’s capital had the Supreme Court not intervened and declared status quo ante. The privatization of Angat Dam was opposed by FDC and other movements because this will violate the human right to water recently recognized by the United Nations General Assembly and affirmed by the UN Human Rights Council.
But lest some people think that this is just an issue of the Philippines to South Korea, we in FDC insist that this thrust is part of what the G20 summit advances. Stated in the “Communiqué on the Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, Gyeongju, Republic of Korea” dated October 23, 2010, item number ten, G20 recognizes the effort and welcomes the work of “12 Seoul G20 Business Summit Working Groups” to enhance “public-private partnership to promote economic growth beyond the crisis.” The G20 Business Summit is composed of business leaders carefully selected from the Fortune 500 list. Clearly, projects such as the KSPC coal-fired power plant, the BNPP, and the Angat Dam are part of the G20 framework to encourage corporate sector participation in vital utilities and infrastructure.
Does this sound familiar? Of course it does. Public-Private Partnership or PPP is the cornerstone of the Aquino administration’s development plan, stating it explicitly in his First State of the Nation Address (SONA) and even allotting for it a lump-sum budget of P15 billion in the 2011 proposed national government expenditures.
We then ask: is this the reason why the Aquino administration is lukewarm with the idea of exacting justice for deported activists? Is it because Aquino government doesn’t want its PPP projects with G20 countries including the South Korea be affected by what Filipino activists are about to expose in Seoul?
The Philippine social movements have nothing against the people of South Korea. If any, we have much to learn from the development experience and strategy of South Korea as it propelled its economy from poverty towards modernity. We only urge the Korean government, quoting from Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang, not to “kick away the ladder” by affirming the neoliberal stance of G20 and intervening in the ownership and management of our public utilities. Doing so prevents developing countries from propelling its economy and ending poverty.
It is in the context that FDC, as part of the Jubilee South – Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD), calls for the profound transformation of the global financial architecture, in the light of the economic and climate crisis we are now facing. G20, as an exclusive clique of rich countries, cannot serve as a venue for such transformation. A more inclusive and participatory venue should be convened to discuss strategic changes on how the world conducts lending, financing, and exchange, responding to the failure of the neoliberal framework to end poverty, assure development to impoverished countries, and provide economic security for nations and citizens alike. The recent currency war, started by the United States in an effort to depress the value of the dollar to make imports of the rest of the world cheaper, is but an expression of this fundamental failure.
FDC’s participation on the G20 actions is pegged on this demand. -30-