DF’s ‘Caser’ vs gov’t’s PDP
We write to express high hopes as we welcome the third round of the peace talks between the Philippine government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front.
This phase focuses on the process of crafting a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser), which is aimed to redress landlessness, poverty, injustice and underdevelopment against which the Maoist revolutionaries have been waging a 47-year-long armed revolution. Caser is the very heart of the peace talks, a blueprint for laying the foundations of genuine peace—that is, peace that is based not on silencing dissent but on redressing injustices.
Kalikasan PNE had the honor of being invited by the NDF to a national, multisectoral consultation last Dec. 13 to help in evaluating and refining its draft Caser proposal.
The NDF’s Caser has an impressive entire section on environmental protection, rehabilitation and compensation. It lays down a concrete situation of the Philippine environment and it has provisions on environmental protection and management, on the rational use of natural resources toward national industrialization, and on climate resiliency and justice.
The notable environmental provisions include the prohibition of open pit mining, reclamation, export logging and monocrop plantations, hazardous and toxic wastes and technologies, and other ecologically destructive practices; the prohibition of patenting and other forms of foreign and corporate control over our flora, fauna, and other biological resources; and the central role of organized communities and sectors in the planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of environment and natural resource management.
No other document has authoritatively articulated concrete solutions to the long-standing economic, social, and ecological crises in the Philippines.
In contrast, the draft of the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan (PDP), supposedly the country’s development master plan, reveals a business-as-usual pathway; it is diametrically opposed to President Duterte’s promise that “change is coming.”
A look into the PDP sections on environment and natural resources shows a status quo on the extractive, export-oriented policies and programs concerning forestry, minerals and other resources. The PDP also continues to promote the privatization of the commons, leaving ecosystems and natural resources to the mercy of market forces, while neglecting waste management, disaster risk management and other environmental public services for lack of public funds.
What does the PDP’s business-as-usual scenario mean for the people? It means the country’s 40 operating large-scale mines, 73 percent of which were found violating various social and environmental regulations by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, will remain untouched and even further expand. It means more timber, agri-industrial, and aquaculture plantations will grab our lands and resources and displace communities. It means many communities will remain without waste management facilities and extremely vulnerable to the worsening risks of disasters.
This perpetuation of various injustices, worsening and unaddressed over the past decades, is the very root of the NDF’s almost five decades of armed revolution in the countryside. The ball is thus in the hands of the GRP; it should rise up to the occasion and build on the comprehensive program for social and economic reforms the NDF has laid down.
Or will it be just another permutation of the PDP? Will it recognize the pervading injustice, and cooperate in redressing the crises?
We enjoin the Filipino public to monitor the developments in Rome as it is everybody’s deep and urgent concern. The peace talks, after all, is not only about negotiating the cessation of armed conflict in the countryside. More importantly and urgently, this great debate is about coming up with lasting solutions to the deep-seated injustices the Filipino people continue to face to this day.
LEON DULCE, campaign coordinator, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, email@example.com