People-centered development vital for consumer rights

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Prior to #WorldConsumerRightsDay, Filipino consumers including those for a #BetterDigitalWorld converged in a forum, expressed their woes and aspirations and vowed to continue working for #SocialEconomicChange

Various consumer groups gathered in a conference last Monday in Quezon City to tackle the social and economic reforms needed to promote consumer welfare. The event participants recognized the need to pursue real social and economic reforms in order to resolve current consumer issues and uphold consumer rights.

The forum dubbed “CASER: What Is In It For Consumers? A Conference on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms and Consumer Welfare” was attended by representatives from Alerta Mamimili (Gabriela), Bantay Bigas (Rice Monitor), Green Action PH, organic advocates group CHIMES, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), National Consumer Affairs Council (NCAC), People Opposed to Warrantless Electricity Rates (POWER), transport group PISTON, digital rights watchdog Text Power, and Water for the People Network (WPN). The event  was organized by IBON in partnership with Pilgrims for Peace and Kapayapaan Campaign for a Just and Lasting Peace.

IBON research head Rosario Bella Guzman kicked off the conference with a discussion of the adverse impact of neoliberal globalization policies that have led to worsening social inequalities, widespread poverty and hunger and thus increasing consumers’ woes.  This was followed by consumer testimonies from the above consumer groups. Raymond Palatino, Pilgrims for Peace convenor and former member of the Philippine House of Representatives then discussed the significance of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) in promoting and ensuring consumer rights and welfare.

The event culminated in the conference participants’ affirmation that continued peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) can lead to genuine and people-centered development.   In this light, the conference echoed the following calls:

–          People-centered reforms to replace the neoliberal economic policies that the Duterte administration continues to pursue;

–          The assertion and promotion of people’s right to effective participation at all levels of social, political and economic decision-making towards nation building;

–          Participation in activities towards advancing consumer rights and welfare such as public forums, media briefings, legislation and lobbying, mobilizations, and research and education campaigns, among others; and

–          urging government to resume peace negotiations with the NDFP.

The participants concluded the conference with the commitment to work together under a unified national network of consumers that will promote people-centered development as the basis of protecting and advancing consumer rights. ###

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