P S N A Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa

In Memory of Ka Bel




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The Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) has been in existence since the early 1980s, and is based in Christchurch. But why have a Philippines solidarity movement?

There are a number of reasons why the Philippines is especially relevant to us. Due to its American colonial history, it is the most Western of the Asian nations, and several centuries of Spanish rule have left it with many similarities to Latin America. We need an active solidarity movement because the Philippines has one of the most vibrant people's movements anywhere in the world. It offers a whole range of working models, from the myriad of NGOs working in every sector right through to armed struggle. There are many lessons that the New Zealand movement can learn from our Philippines counterparts. They need international solidarity because their very lives can be at risk for engaging in the most innocuous political work.

Nor should we feel that their situation has no parallel in our own country. The whole thrust of the last two decades of political and economic restructuring of New Zealand has been to turn us into the Philippines of the South Pacific. The parallels are all there, differentiated only by degree. Massive institutionalised unemployment, deliberate impoverishment and a redistribution of wealth and power to the already rich and powerful, sweatshop wages, deunionisation, privatisation, a handover of resources to the transnational corporations, infrastructure breakdown, soaring crime, massive social stress.

PSNA undertakes a number of solidarity tasks - we have existing or developing links with a wide range of Filipino people's organisations; we facilitate visits to the Philippines by New Zealanders; we have helped host a number of Filipino movement visitors here. We have held video evenings and helped organise progressive Filipino cultural events. We produce a regular newsletter, Kapatiran (Solidarity). It reports on topics such as human rights abuses; American military involvement in the Philippines; women; mining; the militant peasant movement's response to things such as genetic engineering field trials by transnationals; the never ending attempts to win back the billions stolen by the Marcos kleptocracy and to secure justice for the tens of thousands of their human rights victims; and the particular problems of the Muslim part of the Philippines, specifically Mindanao. We aim to make it as relevant as possible to New Zealanders - for example, the impact of globalisation and its institutions, such as APEC and the WTO, on both societies. Our two countries have more in common than is first apparent. #

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