Sunday, May 26, 2019

Carvajal: Serfs no more

Break Point

HYDRA-like feudalism rears the ugliest of its many heads in agriculture. This is the slowest growing and least productive sector of our economy. Poverty has consistently stalked the lives of our farmers who remain the majority poorest of the poor in this country.

In an obvious pitch for the vote of the country’s farmers, Senatorial candidate Imee Marcos was lately heard to say “Copra prices are so low that our farmers are no longer able to live decently.” But when have our small farmers lived decently under our feudal system of farm production? Copra prices have soared and dived but their lives have remained indecently substandard. The ones who have always lived decent lives, regardless of copra prices, are the big landowners.

Feudalism in the country is best or should I say worst demonstrated in the countryside, in the agricultural sector where many farmers are still treated as serfs by their landlords, where low production is blamed on their alleged laziness and dishonesty, where government support is lowest compared to the latter’s support for the urban industrialized sector.

I am for the build-build program of the government except that it is stacked heavily in favor of the urban industrial sector. First things first. Farmers need to produce before they need roads to transport their goods. To do this in a consistent manner they need irrigation and flood-control infrastructure. This has become even more urgent with the onset of climate change when long periods of drought and heavy rains alternate in preventing farmers from growing and harvesting crops. You simply don’t need roads when there are no products to transport.

Many farming villages do not have safe drinking water. Sure the roads built to these villages help farmers transport their sick to doctors or hospitals in the city. But does it not make better sense to prioritize preventing farmer families from getting sick with dysentery or cholera by providing them with safe drinking water?

Our colonizers really succeeded in instilling in their successors, today’s political dynasties, a culture that gives them the right to do what they want and treat people below as serfs with only the right to submit to their wishes. This culture is what is breeding corruption among the powerful.

The communists are right to tag our society as semi-feudal. They are wrong to dismantle it through violence. The times demand that we take the road of peace in doing away with political dynasties and giving the farmer-worker sector a strong voice in government.

One thing is certain; contrary to a party-list congressman’s campaign pitch (“May mararating ang Pilipinas”), this country is not going anywhere until its farmers are serfs no more.


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