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Workshop for Church-Based Advocacy for Food Justice in Southeast Asia, November 2012

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) held a capacity-strengthening workshop for church-based advocacy for food justice in Asia. The workshop was held in Manila, Philippines, 25-29 November 2012.

Over 35 people participated from seven countries in Asia, as well as from several different church-based constituencies from the Caritas family (from Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines), World Vision International, Catholic Bishops Conference of India (Office for Justice, Peace and Development), United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India, Church of North India, Madras Christian Council of Social Services, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action-Inter-Diocesan Sustainable Agriculture Network, Church of Christ in Thailand and the Commission on Justice, Peace & Creation of the National Council of Churches in India.

The workshop aimed at consolidating a church-based movement for food justice in Southeast Asia. Specific work plans and strategies were created at national, regional and international levels, networks were strengthened for mutual support and subsequent follow-up meetings were established. Participants learned from local small-scale farmers about the challenges in the Rizal Province and the province of Bulacan and debated emerging issues such threat of eviction due to the development of a major Metro Railway Transit Line Project.

Successful case studies were also heard. For example, PANGALASAG, an indigenous peoples organization shared their success in resisting the palm oil expansion of A. Brown Company in Opol, Misamis Oriental, Philippines and DAGAMI, a provincial organization of farmers in Isabela Province in Northeastern Philippines, actively campaigned (and succeeded!) to shut down a Bio-ethanol plant last August. Dr Chito Medina, National Coordinator of MASIPAG shared their work to empower farmers through farmers' control over their traditional seeds, lands, and knowledge while Rovik Santiago Obanil from the Integrated Rural Development Foundation conveyed what investments are required to scale up these actions.

Participants also reviewed major policy instruments such as the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and the Asian Human Rights Commission and heard from Congressman Rafael V. Mariano about his experiences as a member of the House of Representatives representing Anakpawis Partylist, which represents farmers and workers.