By Kalikasan PNE
As the 30th Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) summit commences in the Philippines this April 26-29, we in the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) urge the leaders of different ASEAN countries to be wary and veer away from the imperialist agendas of China, Japan, and the US in the ASEAN that have perilous impacts on the environment and the people of South East Asia.
An important agenda of this year’s ASEAN meeting is the crafting of the framework for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
South China Sea(SCS) is known to hold the third biggest expanse of coral reefs in the world that serve as home to 3,365 known species of fish and generate a yearly catch of 16.6 million tons of fish. However, vast areas of coral reefs have been destroyed by China due to their reclamation activities in the different shoals and islets that have been used as military bases.These actions by China have led to the United States’ justification to increase the number of military forces in the West Philippine Sea, further exacerbating threats to the fragile marine ecosystems.
Kalikasan reiterates its position that SCS should be a demilitarized zone that is free from any military facilities and activities that endangers the high marine biodiversity in the area. Operating military bases are known sources of polluters, such as transport fuel and toxic or hazardous war materiel, and other harmful impacts generated by their operations that routinely pollute and degrade their surrounding environment. ASEAN leaders should ensure that the prohibition of military activities, especially by imperialist powers, should be included in the Code of Conduct. Increasing tension between contending US and China interests endangers not only the biological diversity of South China Sea but also the people of South East Asia.
Another agenda that is to be tackled is the inclusion of the ASEAN bloc in the China-led free trade agreement (FTA)Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).By weakening state regulations and establishing a state-corporation dispute settlement system, RCEP aims to further the liberalization of ASEAN member economies.
The Philippines has a rich experience in entering free trade agreements and ratifying neoliberal economic policies that have led only to the destruction of the environment and wanton plunder of natural resources, such in the case of Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), Mining Act of 1995, and others. ASEAN should avoid entering any economic agenda imposed by imperialists’ countries.
Kalikasan is also warning the ASEAN that the framework of ASEAN Minerals Cooperation Action Plan 2016-2025 (AMCAP-III), such as the facilitation and enhancement of trade and investment in minerals, is making the ASEAN region vulnerable to mining plunder by extra-ASEAN mining corporations.
Kalikasan demand ASEAN leaders to refrain from subscribing to any move of outsider imperialist nations looking to make South East Asia Region a battlefront of their military and economic agenda. They should ensure that environmental protection and people’s welfare should be one of the primary goals in their regional cooperation agenda.#
Reference: Clemente Bautista – 0905 432 5211