VIOLENT extremism thrives on social injustice, gross inequities and dehumanizing poverty in a land where only a few elite control the economy, having tremendous rakings at the expense of the people and the environment.
On the other hand, cooperativism as advanced by the Cooperative Development Authority, is an instrument to advance social justice, equity and economic development by empowering the poor and the vulnerable to have control and access over their resources which are fast slipping through their fingers. Cooperatives are putting those in the margins to be drawn into the mainstream of development processes.
Recently, a very interesting flow of events happened in the life of the wounded soldiers who have organized themselves into a cooperative which has brought to the fore my contention that cooperativism is the empowering path to make life better to those whose lives have been impaired by war.
“There is still life for soldiers even after losing eyesight. I will see to it that you remain productive citizens of this country.” This was the promise of His Excellency, Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte to First Lieutenant Jerome Jacuba and to other soldiers who have been confined at the V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City after being wounded for fighting against terrorism and insurgency in Marawi, Maguindanao and other parts of the country. The soldiers at V. Luna then have incurred different injuries defending the country against violent extremism. Some have been amputated, while others – like Jacuba, were blinded. Jacuba lost his eyesight due to the explosion of an improvised explosive device in an encounter in Maguindanao against Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
As their commander-in-chief, President Duterte was moved by the courage and patriotism of these soldiers. Hence, the President is making sure that the government’s support will be given to them accordingly, just like a good father of the family.
Few months later, with the help of the Cooperative Development Authority and other government agencies, the soldiers are now back on their feet again, ready for another battle. This time, their fight is not anymore through arms but is against poverty through cooperativism. Now that they are organized as “Wounded Soldiers Agricultural Cooperative,” they will run a five-hectare agri-tourism farm that will showcase sustainable integrated farming and to put-up a Training Center to enhance the technical capabilities of their members and would-be members to become more productive.
Their wives and children will be capacitated to implement livelihood projects so that their children can continue their schooling even if their brave wounded fathers have become disabled by war
These courageous soldiers have shown that there is no greater love than one who has sacrificed and even faced death to fight for freedom in our land against violent extremism. It therefore behooves for all of us to salute them and give our utmost support. This time, they have scaled up the war to a higher level – to fight and defeat the number one enemy which is poverty rooted in social injustice and inequities.
Welcome brave soldiers to the world of cooperativism as the liberating force in a highly skewed societal order where wealth is just concentrated in a few oligarchs. This is now the new revolution – the cooperative revolution. As former Chairman of CDA, Mr. Roberto Pagdanganan said, “sa bawat henerasyon may rebolusyon. Rebolusyong kooperatiba, ngayon na!” The 28,000 cooperatives with some 14 million members in the country are aware of this truism that says, “where a few elite have much too much while the many who are poor, have much too little, the consequences will be horrible even to contemplate.”
The grand plan is for the wounded soldiers to run a Training Center in coordination with the Cooperative Development Authority and the Tesda, two agencies transferred recently from the Office of the President to the Department of Trade and Industry under the leadership of Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.
As I have reported to Sec. Lopez during my courtesy call recently, I told the good Secretary that CDA and Tesda plan to train the young internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are victims of the Marawi crisis. These young IDPs will be trained on diploma courses so that they will be capacitated to work abroad and earn dollars. This will mean from being IDPs they will become PRDs, meaning Parents Receiving Dollars. In doing so, we will counter the recruitment of the Isis who are paying their recruits about fifty thousand pesos each.
When I presented this plan recently during the General Assembly of the Network for the Development of Agricultural Cooperative (Nedac) in Asia and the Pacific, the attendees composed of top officials from some 21 countries welcomed the idea. Amazingly, an ambassador from one country even committed to help in hiring hundreds of the trained IDPs.
Indeed, “violent extremism” just like the Climate Crisis is becoming a global problem.” Someone even mentioned, Isis has gained headways in Syria and other countries. It is therefore imperative to make cooperativism the countervailing force because there are some one billion members of the cooperatives world-wide who are advancing Transformative Cooperatives for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace.
All told, through cooperativism we will defeat violent extremism, all for the greater Glory of God! Isa pong taimtim na pagpupugay sa ating mga bayani ng bayan, ang Wounded Soldiers Agricultural Cooperative.