Gathering at the heels of various global issue conferences such as the Conference of Parties 27 on climate change and the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review which took up the Philippine human rights situation, civil society organizations said that the country’s dominantly business-biased and profit-driven atmosphere keeps it from progressing towards the goals of Agenda 2030. The groups then pressed for pro-people recommendations culled from several multi-stakeholder discussions to genuinely attain sustainability.
The morning forum dubbed ‘Rising above health, economic and environment crises: advancing people-centered development towards Agenda 2030″ was organized by the Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG), IBON, and the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE).
IBON executive director Sonny Africa provided the main input on a polycrisis hounding the country and the world today. He delved on the pandemic, food and fuel inflation, recession, extreme weather events, war, and democratic decline. Africa underscored that if real solutions to address poverty and exploitation are not undertaken, specifically to the capitalist obsession on profitmaking at the expense of the people and the planet, these polycrises are bound to worsen.
Various stakeholders testified how the Filipino people’s and country’s situation in terms of services and well-being yielded by big-business-inclined economics and governance need to be addressed with alternative solutions.
Prof. Reginald Vallejos of the Water for the People Network said that the country is not on track in achieving universal access to safe and affordable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene and this is compounded by still increasing water privatization. Similarly, Audrey De Jesus of IBON said that heavy transport system privatization has deprived Filipinos of sustainable mass public transport that is efficient, reliable, affordable, safe and environmental.
On urbanization, Michael Beltran of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahirap or Kadamay wrote that countries are off-track in ending poverty and making cities sustainable for the urban poor. Governments around the world, pressured by global superpowers are more concerned with extracting profits from mega-projects rather than actually listening to the voices of the oppressed, he added.
On the climate crisis, Anya Mendoza thru a statement said that SDG 13 remains to be an elusive dream. Climate action must be people-led and not driven by big business and profiteers. The same lot that has put a dictator’s son into power, Mendoza said.
She added that for true action, the most vulnerable, the victims of climate change and environmental plunder must join forces and work for system change in favor of the majority while protecting natural resources for a sustainable and livable future.
In a shared presentation, Kilusang Mayo Uno chair Elmer Labog and Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) liaison Xavier Fajardo said that the eradication of poverty is the primordial objective expressed both in the UN SDGs as well as the Philippine Development Plan. One major indicator of the purchasing capacity of workers are the level of wages, that are quite insufficient at the Php494 real value of the highest minimum wage (NCR), hence the fight for a wage level commensurate to the Php1,133 estimated family living wage. They also pointed out how wages in the provinces are much lower due to the wage rationalization law but in essence means the regionalization of wages.
“Philippine wages are aptly described as “libing’ (funeral) wage” & not ” living wage,” said Labog, thus the sustainable goal for decent work & economic development are very far from being realized.
The groups forwarded recommendations for equitable development framed with building strong domestic economic – agricultural and industrial – foundations, to looking after the nation’s natural resources, upholding people’s rights and welfare, financing development, and forging an independent Philippine economy. In the immediate, they also aligned with workers’ and multisectoral calls for a substantial wage hike and expanded social protection for all vulnerable sectors.
These recommendations are also encapsulated in the People Economics campaign, the People’s Agenda for the economy, human rights, social services, governance, free expression and information, and sovereignty, and the joint multistakeholder recommendations for the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines — which the CPDG along with the various CSOs and people’s organizations agreed on to push forward to achieve people-centered development.