Activists Hit ADB’s Strategy and Yolanda loan

Manila, Philippines — Members of the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) and the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice trooped outside the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to protest against the financial institution’s “business-as-usual” development strategy in the Philippines and against its impending $500M loan to the Philippine government for reconstruction and rehabilitation, during the ADB’s consultation with civil society groups.

The ADB Consultation with Civil Society on Strategy 2020 Midterm Review, an evaluation of its mandate and direction for its vision of an Asia and Pacific region by year 2020, is scheduled today.


“The ADB’s Strategy 2020 is a business-as-usual,” FDC and PMCJ said in their joint statement. “Inclusive growth  without altering the high inequality in control and management of land, capital, technology and knowledge resources may only result at best in lessening the vast number of the unemployed and underemployed,  reducing the scale of school dropouts at the basic levels  and increasing the very limited number of young people who will get tertiary education, and improving the chances of the bottom poor, the lowest layers of the poor population to climb upward to join the rest of the poor.” 

FDC President Ricardo Reyes said that Filipinos should not forget the bitter lessons of the Philippine development experience of the past several decades, having pursued a growth strategy that is anchored on the private sector- privatization,  external markets and liberalizing its markets,  and debts -  the same features of ADB’s Strategy 2020.

Paradigm Shift Needed


“After the Yolanda (Haiyan) devastation, the representatives of developing countries and many scientists and experts in the recently concluded 19thConference of Parties Meeting in Warsaw, Poland came out stronger than before in their resolve to push for a new order of the day – to radically veer away from the business as usual track and move towards a more ambitious and radical actions on emissions, adaptation, loss and damage, climate finance and technology transfer,” PMCJ Coordinator Gerry Arances said. 

“More lives will be lost if the world does not act now. For the Philippines, at stake is national survival,” He added.

PMCJ and FDC said that however, the ADB has continued its dirty energy funding history until today and will still pursue it under its new strategy.  Even with the much publicized Clean Energy Program of the ADB, the Bank will still continue funding fossil fuel projects, which are heavy on coal and gas. In the Philippines alone, the Bank has continued its dirty energy funding with the much discredited Naga Coal Plant in the province of Cebu. Historically, the ADB have funded a total of 11 coal plants, most of which have been tested as emitting off the charts levels of mercury, arsenic and lead emissions that endanger the host communities and environments, aside from millions of tons of carbon dioxide contributions to global warming. 

“Nothing less than a PARADIGM SHIFT in development is what the Philippines needs.  A PARADIGM SHIFT now, today, not next week, not next year, let alone the next few years,” Reyes added. “For the Philippines, this paradigm shift is now or never.”

 Hovering around like Vultures

FDC said the ADB’s loan pledge is also display of its business-as-usual attitude towards the issues of climate and development.

“Have you noticed that after the Yolanda (Haiyan) devastation, the ADB and the World Bank were hovering like vultures around a Yolanda-stricken Philippines, waiting to take advantage of this catastrophe to suck blood profits out of our people?” FDC President Reyes quipped.The ADB and the World Bank pledged loans amounting to $500M each, for reconstruction and rehabilitation effort after typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). The Monetary Board has recently approved in principle the ADB loan.

During the protest action, a vulture effigy and several protesters in vulture costumes ran around several protesters lying on the ground to portray the ADB and WB as vultures, flying around the victims of Yolanda (Haiyan).Reyes said that justice  for the Filipino people demands  debt cancellation, especially the illegitimate ones – odious,  onerous,  patently  illegal,  violative of human rights, harmful to the people, environment and climate,  and  bereft of institutional processes of consent of the people .

“Climate justice demands reparations to countries like the Philippines in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) principle of “common but differentiated responsibility”. This responsibility takes the form of grants and aid to enable the Philippines to develop resiliency to climate change and compensation for losses and damages like what it suffered from Yolanda and previous other climate change–induced natural disasters,” he argued.

FDC challenged President Aquino to lead the call for debt cancellation and climate reparations to the international community.

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