“The impact of APEC and the TPP on health is that millions of people will be denied access to essential and much needed medicines, with the tightening of patents and intellectual property rights.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — Members of the Health Alliance for Democracy together (HEAD) with the Health Commission of the International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) trooped to the United Sates Embassy in Manila on Nov. 6, to condemn the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
The TPP is a free trade agreement currently being negotiated with 12 countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It was described as a “controversial agreement” as critics of the deal around the globe decried the lack of transparency. Its content was eventually released on Nov. 5.
The US President Barack Obama also expressed its intention to sign the agreement. The Philippines is not party to the TPP, but progressive groups say the government is making preparations to become a member.
The health groups said Obama will push the TPP during the Apec Leaders’ Summit where a tighter US-led system of trade and investment in the region will be set.
“Shrouded with secrecy, leaked reports reveal that the TPP is expected to eliminate tariffs on thousands of goods and services and impose stricter intellectual property rights as well as further strengthen the supremacy of investors over state interest through the investor-state dispute settlement,” said Dr. Joseph Carabeo.
Carabeo said the direct impact of the TPP on health will be on the people’s access to life-saving medicines, which will virtually reverse the small gains made with the Generics Law and the Cheaper Medicines Law.
He said under the TPP, current regulations on intellectual property rights will be further revised in favor of the big pharmaceuticals. “Provisions include ways that broaden the scope of patentability, lengthen and strengthen patent rights, expand data inclusivity, and pharmaceutical pricing, among others. As such, millions of people will be denied access to essential and much needed medicines,” said Carabeo.
The group also pointed out that even without the TPP, the Philippine government’s faithful adherence to the US led APEC agenda has already devastated the nation’s own productivity through the years, eroded food self insufficiency, plunged more people deeper into poverty and unemployment and has opened wide even health professionals for cheap labor export.
“The aggressive push to privatize government hospitals and public health care services through the Public Private Partnership just like the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) and planned corporatization of regional hospitals will further demolish the people’s right to health and have converted health services into profitable commodities for foreign monopoly capital,” said Carabeo.
Health in a protest action in front of the US Embassy in Manila on Friday, Nov. 6. (Photo by A. Umil/ Bulatlat.com) [/caption]The protesters also condemned the human rights violations of critics who oppose such policies.
Dr. Genevieve Rivera of Health Action for Human Rights said “political repression against activists and groups critical of neoliberal economic policies continues,” which include the killing and attacks on Lumad communities opposed to the entry of foreign-owned extractive companies and expansion of agribusiness plantations.”
“The US has long has long found a faithful neoliberal globalization lieutenant and protector of its interest in the current administration of President Aquino,” Rivera added.
Carabeo said they will not be silenced and will be on streets, together with other progressive organizations, to protest such policies that aggravate the dire condition of the people.
“APEC and TPP and other forms of US imperialist globalization should therefore be resolutely opposed as these continually hand down deadly prescription on us. And we dare say, US hands off the Philippines, hands off our people’s health. Our health care is not for sale! Our sovereignty is not your business,” said Carabeo.