The Philippine Solidarity Group (FGN) is an independent organization which aims to promote solidarity and generate support in the Netherlands for the people in the Philippines and their grassroots organizations in their aspiration and pursuit for a just, equitable and democratic society. FGN was established in 1975 by former missionaries and development workers. FGN wants to generate insights and understanding about the political, economic and social developments in the Philippines. It wants to obtain support for grassroots initiatives directed at economic upliftment of the poorest section of the society and at structural social and economic reform.
At the same time FGN wants to promote a balanced view in the Netherlands of the situation and developments in the Philippines, about the people, its cultural identity and the cultural diversity in the country. FGN is working toward achieving its aims by generating attention, through a variety of activities and publicity, about the situation of the rural and urban poor and the political, economic and social circumstances which form the basis for their marginalized position in society.
The group aims also to contribute to the debates about international development questions, global relations and the effects of globalization on developing countries. FGN participates in and contributes to activities and campaigns in the Netherlands related to issues in global relations and developments where developments in the Philippines function as an example. This is the case with FGN's active involvement in the Clean Clothes Campaign, which is aimed at improving the position of garment workers and the international campaign to cancel substantial parts the foreign debt of developing counties.
To achieve its aim FGN organizes various activities and campaigns. Through theater presentations; music and dance; contacts with elementary, high schools and colleges; boxes with materials, goods, appliances for educational use; audiovisual materials and publications, media work with Dutch media outlets, conferences and meetings, the Dutch public will learn about many aspects of life in the Philippines. But also through meeting visitors and delegations from the Philippines and Filipinos living in the Netherlands. Sharing, getting to know each other, learning from each other and establishing contact between people and organizations will lead to useful exchanges and will increase mutual understanding and solidarity. It also forms the basis for more durable solidarity relations and support.
The Tambuli Magazine
Tambuli is the only regular magazine on the Philippines in Dutch. It is published five times a year by FGN and the Philippine Information and Documentation Center (FIDOC).
Human Rights Action Alert Network
The Human Rights Action Alert network of FGN is a network of groups and individuals which regularly sends letters and appeals to Philippines authorities regarding grave human rights violation by government troops and para-military groups. Despite the restoration of democratic institutions after 1986, human rights violations still take place in a regular and structural way and hundreds of people are imprisoned on political grounds without the benefit of due process.
Everywhere in the Philippines women are active in community work. Their involvement helps strengthen the position of women in society. By means of a small but regular financial contribution from the "Adopt an Organizer" fund of FGN, the organizers - the driving force in these local women's groups - are given assistance to continue their work. Individual women and local women organizations in the Netherlands contribute on a regular basis to this fund. For the Filipino women and their organizations, the financial support is also a token of solidarity: they gain strength from the knowledge that women in another part of the world support them.
Peasants and agricultural workers
In its activities FGN gives substantial attention in supporting NGOs and organizations of peasants and farm workers struggling for implementation of land to the tiller program, using legal and extra-legal activities.
Indigenous people in many parts of the Philippines struggle to maintain sustainable stewardship of their ancestral lands and to resist systematic destruction of tropical forests through (illegal) logging and large scale mining, which destroys the environment. Through its activities, FGN draws attention to these abuses and supports the autonomous initiatives of the indigenous people.
The country's foreign debt has been a problem since the 1980's. At the end of 2003 the public sector debt (foreign and domestic) stood at 105 billion US dollars. Allocations for payments on interest and principal of the public sector debt amount to more than 30 percent of the national budget and 80 percent of national government revenues. Due to this problem government allocations for education and health services, community development, land reform and other social services are low, affecting the poorest section of the population. This is enough reason for FGN to engage in activities and campaigns for debt repudiation and thus removing the obstacles that hinders genuine development.
Workers often have to endure harsh working conditions; they are increasingly hired on a contractual basis and receive low salaries. Due to competition of neighboring countries, working conditions in the garment industry are worsening, salaries decrees, working hours increase and health and safety precautions are widely violated. Through participation in the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Fear Wear Foundation (which is enforcing a code of conduct in cooperation with Dutch garment companies), FGN makes a contribution to the improvement of the working condition of the (women) workers in the garment industry.
For more information please contact:
Philippine Solidarity Group Netherlands Filippijnengroep Nederland (FGN)
Deken Roesstraat 4
3581 RX Utrecht