SA bawat henerasyon may rebolusyon. Rebolusyong kooperatiba, ang tawag ng bagong panahon!
Poverty. Hunger. Ecological disasters. Corruption. Violence. Greed and apathy. Social injustice. Gross Inequities. Violent Extremism. Put together, these are the lethal combination that puts a country in disarray, caused by formidable social structures that can only be described as pyramidal, elitist and oppressive This horrible scenario is worsened by a political system that can only be described as exclusive and colonial, that’s why Federalism has come of age.
Such a structural flaw has given way to the massive exploitation of our natural resources that saw the wanton decimation of our forest, agricultural and marine ecosystems.
The much-sought social change has come under the present dispensation’s Biyaya ng Pagbabago. From being exclusive and colonial, the paradigm shift now is towards inclusive and democratic. This has become imperative especially in resource-rich Mindanao which has to be put under Martial Law for reason of violent extremism. Indeed, the Bangsa Moro Basic Law authored by Sen. Migs Zubiri has come of age.
Why must there be a Cooperative Revolution? Well, amidst the battle-cry for social change dawns upon all of us a simple reflection particularly on what is so glaring, that is, on the state of the environment.
A century ago, three-fourths of the Philippines were wooded with some 17 million hectares of natural forest. Today, only half a million hectares are left. As our dipterocarp forest goes, so goes our mega-diversity composed of billions of living organisms, many of which have become extinct even before being discovered.
The few loggers have amassed tremendously from the massive plunder of our forest and whose rakings have created a strong cabal of vested interests including politicians and those who are tasked to enforce environmental laws. If indeed no one is above the law, they must now be made accountable for committing the biggest plunder of all times. One shipment alone of logs would earn a logger 360 million pesos, the Philippines having the finest timber in the world.
Our once rich vast agricultural lands have become addicted to chemical-dependent conventional agriculture that is only successful in polluting our watersheds and in further impoverishing the peasantry as big agri-business corporations have robbed the rural communities of their farming.
Our marine ecosystem fares no better as fishing communities continue to suffer from high poverty rate as the bays’ ecological integrity is fast vanishing due to the destruction of the mangroves and coral reefs. Massive siltation and pollution are giving the final death blows to the marine and fishery life. In fact, of the 13 major bays, 10 are already described as biologically dead causing hunger and malnutrition to the coastal communities.
A Study has shown that almost 70% of the ecological people (the farmers, fisherfolk, Lumads, etc.) are below the poverty line. The poverty incidence is worse in Mindanao as its six regions are suffering from high poverty gap ratios. The poor in Mindanao are the poorest throughout the nation, a glaring paradox in an island that is called the nation’s “food basket” where two-thirds of the country’s exports are coming from.
Massive poverty can also be attributed to the growth-at-all-cost development strategies that have only been successful in consigning more people to live in the slum areas and in destroying our resource base. Too much materialism and consumerism have sacrificed the people and the environment to the altar of greed and profit.
Social transformation through social re-structuring has now become imperative to break away from unsustainable patterns of development and to stop our accelerating drive towards ecological disasters.
This time, social transformation is in the offing but not through armed struggle but through a collectivist counter culture called cooperativism that is well-founded on the time-honored and universally-accepted principles of democratic control and people’s participation and where the people and the environment are the priorities rather than business and profit.
Through the Biyaya ng Pagbabago, the twenty-seven thousands cooperatives nationwide with some 14 million members are waging a cooperative revolution, peaceful and legal, to advance what is just, what is true and what is good to draw those in the margins into the mainstream of development processes.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 11, 2018.