MANILA — “Philippines is not for sale!”
This was the call of various progressive groups led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) as they stormed the Marriot Hotel in Manila Thursday, where the Infrastructure Philippines 2010 Summit was being held. The summit aims to boost the Aquino administartion’s private-public partnership (PPP) program by giving incentives to potential foreign investors, who are willing to invest in infrastructure projects.
Independent think tank Ibon Foundation said that the “summit will examine investment opportunities, profiles of PPP projects in the Philippines, as well as policy, regulatory and legal concerns in developing the infrastructure sector in the Philippines.”
Representatives of foreign banks and multilateral institutions like the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, are expected to attend the conference.
The protesters, who were forcibly pushed away by the police and hotel security, held protest actions a few meters away from the hotel.
“The PPP’s prioritizes profits over service, to protecting investors over protecting consumers. Many times the Philippine government had assumed commercial risks and given sovereign guarantees to investors which resulted in huge debts and rising fees. It is no wonder why most of the conference speakers come from big foreign banks and foreign lending institutions. Many of the projects will be funded by foreign loans,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said.
Carlito Badion, national vice-chairman of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), said that the demolition of the urban poor community in Sitio San Roque, Barangay Bagong Pag-asa in Quezon City, was clear proof that Pres. Aquino was favoring the investors rather than its own people. “The Quezon City Business District (QCBD) and the conditional cash transfers prove that he has forsaken the poor people for the interests of capitalists and now he is opening the country for foreign investors. And this is what he meant of straight path — a straight path to dire poverty,” said Badion.
Bayan is wondering why the Aquino administration, which claims to be committed to fighting corruption, cannot find ways to invest in public utilities and services in its own way instead of turning to foreign investors. “It is the government’s duty to improve and develop public utilities and other services because these are imbued with public interest. The moment private interest steps in, the motive will be profit and returns on investment, and not public service,“ Reyes said. (Photos by Anne Marxze D. Umil / Bulatlat.com)
Click here for more photos of the protest actions in front of Marriot Hotel.