AS UNDERSECRETARY and Chairman of the Cooperative Development Authority in the country, I am so fired-up to advance cooperativism whose DNA is that of being MEMBERS-OWNED (indeed, no one shall be left behind), VALUE-BASED (debunking consumerism and materialism for the sublime) and SUSTAINABLE (based on the firm belief that life is sacred)).
I firmly believe that cooperativism, not communism, is the long awaited paradigm, the liberating force to rectify social wrong, gross social inequities, social injustices that created the horrible contemporaneous scenarios of climate change and violent extremism. Such contention is well supported by newly published book on “Capitalism Versus Climate Change,” by Naomi Klein saying that carbon is not the problem but the inconvenient truth is that capitalism is causing climate change brought about by the growth-at-all-cost neo-liberalism paradigm that is sacrificing the people and mother earth to the altar of greed and profit.
In another very popular book, “Dangerous Years,” by David Orr, the author aptly described what capitalism is all about: “It feeds, clothes, houses, entertains, transports, employs, invests, disinvests, and showers all manner of things on those with money. It also poisons and pollutes while making some rich and many others poor and some fat while others starve.
It flattens mountains, destroys ecologies, acidifies oceans, destabilizes the climate, creates continentalsized gyres of trash in the oceans, and corrupts democracy. It is creating amazing new ways to displace humans in favor of robots and render our carbon-based minds obsolete in favor of those made of silicon. It provides a multitude of ways to communicate 24/7 while making it less likely that we can talk sensibly with our neighbors. It entertains and infantilizes, perhaps while “consuming itself.” Both bane and blessing, it is the global capitalist economy.”
That heartless economic system has wrought tremendous havoc, like a monster devouring our country’s ecological wealth, devastating the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest, erasing our mega-diversity, the richest on earth, killing rivers and bays, polluting our watersheds through the heavy use of toxins by trans-national corporations even using pesticides banned already in other countries, transforming the Philippines as supplier of the consumerist needs of the developed countries while many Filipinos are hungry as we cannot even produce enough rice to feed our people.
After the Edsa revolution, the framers of the 1987 Constitution intended to legalize people power through cooperativism by creating an office that shall “promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of equity, social justice and economic development,” in a highly skewed societal order run then by cronies and cartels and where some 200 families then control the economy.
Indeed, there is no need for armed struggle. Social transformation can be had by empowering the people, by harnessing their collective potentials. Indeed, for those who have dreamt, struggled, advocated and even died for it, social change has been so elusive all these years despite 14 years of martial law and two people-powered revolutions. The structures and systems breeding poverty are still as formidable as ever. Change has now come, not through violent revolution but through peaceful and legal means called cooperativism, the embodiment of people power.
Indeed, change has come under the present leadership through the Biyaya ng Pagbabago headed by no less than a good friend, Mr. Joselito “Penpen” Libres, Under-Secretary of the Office of Participatory Governance in the country and by Ms. Vida Pacturan in Region 10, a good friend.
Together, to be true to that mandate, we will democratize wealth and power by empowering the poor and the vulnerable as it is the conclusion of development experts and social scientists that poverty in the country is rooted in the disempowerment of the people to have access and control over the oozing ecological resources and energy which are under the stranglehold of the rich and powerful oligarchs. The call is to heal the blighted land back to life, empower the poor and the vulnerable, achieve food security through sustainable agriculture and correct social inequities and social injustices to make life better for our people for the greater glory of God!
It is indeed a great privilege to head an office that is touching base with a robust movement of some 20,000 active cooperatives nation-wide with some 11 million members that become transformative cooperatives for people, planet, prosperity and peace in consonance with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals to stop poverty, stop gross inequities, stop social injustice, protect the ecosystems, advance gender and development, improve the health of the people, among others.
The very essence of cooperativism to uproot the causes of war and conflict brought about by poverty, gross inequities and social injustice.
That is so difficult in a country run by cartels. As Chairman of CDA who dared to democratize wealth and power by registering a so-called electric cooperative to be owned and managed by the MCOs (member-consumer-owners) will be charged by the Ombudsman and will have a case in the Sandigan Bayan. Why? For doing my job? To democratize wealth and power? Don’t you know that there are now 11 million MCOs with some 200 billion pesos as capital shares in their respective 119 ECs in the country that until now are not being recognized. Isn’t that massive estafa committed against the 11 million MCOs with a critical mass of 55 million Filipinos in a family of five?
Well, a time of reflection has come this Holy Week. Is it time to leave CDA? Are the cartels so powerful that they have created a strong cabal of vested interest? Only time will tell. But always remember, Veritas Liberabit Vos! As always, what is true, what is just and what is good will always prevail despite the harassments, bureaucratic intrigues and even attempts to life.