THE present reliance of our region on monocrop sugar-based economy; heavy dependence on basic agricultural products and consumer goods; absence of domestic manufacturing for basic metal, chemical, capital goods, precision instruments, and the likes to produce what our agriculture, service and industry needs; dominance of few big Filipino-Chinese taipans with foreign partners dominating all aspects of our economy -- all within the structure of an economy dominated by big landlord-compradors, Filipino-Chinese taipans, few multinational corporations – are what cause our backwardness, indebtedness, unemployment and poverty.
Even the organic production and promotion of renewal energy that the government is boasting is nothing but tokenism and exhibitionism for the vested interests of the few because the foundation of our economy remains under the stranglehold of the few big politico-economic dynasties in cahoots with multinational interests.
Even lands distributed under government’s agrarian reform program do not contribute to increasing production and productivity because most of them, without government support, often end up leasing or selling their lands to the original land owners or new corporate groups.
The jobs generation is slow and nil compared to the growing percentage of people without jobs because our local economy is dependent on sugar farms and mills, which are fast losing jobs; the mostly wholesale and retail businesses which do not generate jobs, and construction services, supermalls and call centers which provide small and temporary jobs, mostly under contractual schemes.
In fact, the only thing that keeps our local economy afloat is the remittances of our overseas Filipino workers and Filipino immigrants.
The most basic things we need everyday in our homes and workplaces, from the tip of our hair to the tip of our toes – soaps, shampoos, detergents, hairpins, skincare, nails, hammers, saw, manicure kit, medicines, homeware, lightings, among others - are all sourced from foreign companies and as well as imports, which the government pays in foreign currencies.
All these continue due to the cyclical, self-consuming, self-destructing mode of the system we have that do not contribute whatsoever to changing our economic structure and improving the quality of life of our people.
There can be no way out of this mire without democratization of resources and industrialization.
Land and other basic resources must be distributed for free to the landless tillers, including the poor and lower middle peasants. There is enough land to distribute and make every peasant household self-sufficient. Tenanted land, land illegally acquired, land foreclosed by state banks, idle and excess portions of export-crop land, public land held under false pretenses (pasture lease, tree farming, etc.) and logged-over land suitable for agriculture can be distributed free to landless tillers. As the progress in land democratization grows, there should be “cooperativization” of lands in stages for the purpose of raising efficiency in production, productivity, marketing and the like.
Integral to the program of land distribution should be provisions for low-interest credit, technical assistance, irrigation and other agricultural facilities; organic and chemical fertilizers; low-priced farm equipment, feeder roads and the like.
Peasant associations and cooperatives can help themselves and at the same time receive appropriate assistance from the government.
People’s access to enough, safe and healthy food must be secured. Production for exports must be limited.
As food and raw material production are expanded, local processing must be improved; hence, this be accompanied by establishment of Industries to produce basic metal, basic chemical, capital goods, precision instruments and the like.
These are basic production development. In the mid and long term, we need to establish medium and heavy industries to ensure that agriculture is meeting efficiently our targets and needs of our people, and industries are providing enough efficient machines and technologies, and surpluses for sustaining agriculture and rural development.
After taking into account the needs of the people and the economy, surpluses in agriculture, mineral and industrial production can be exported in exchange for capital goods and essential consumer goods that are not yet produced or cannot be produced in the country. The main thrust is to acquire capital goods that enhance industrialization and the needs of agriculture.
All Filipino with managerial, scientific and technical skills must be encouraged to participate in democratization and industrialization. Their ranks can be increased by expanding admission to scientific, engineering and vocational-technical schools. Other experts from the national or international scene can be admitted on an exchange basis, or hired in connection with the inflow of new equipment and technology.
Overall, I am just outlining a general possible course of development that completely veer away from the current system of local economy, which offer no better future for all of us especially the next generations.
Current debates and struggles on issues against sugar import liberalization, rice tariffication, among others, are good and necessary initiatives that contribute to the bigger challenge towards meaningful change and a paradigm shift. I encourage the stakeholders to strive to go beyond their issues.
Since the present government and local units oppose this revolutionary idea in re-frameworking our economy, the bigger initiatives should come from the organized marginalized sectors, aided by our progressive scientists, inventors, engineers, architects and technicians in various technical and vocational fields.
Still, it is of great help to struggle and work patiently with government agencies especially liberal and democratic politicians and technocrats, because they are in position of authority and resources vital to help the marginalized create development momentum.
This is a long haul engagement. Let us begin now and even more wherever possibilities and opportunities exist to advance the new paradigm shift.