Ravanera: Cooperatives advancing social transformation

Kim’s Dream

I REMEMBER the strong call by His Holiness Pope Francis challenging everyone, at all levels of society, to reject every form of corruption which diverted resources from the poor. Noting the urgent need for social transformation, he said, “It bids us to break the bonds of injustice and oppression, which give rise to glaring and scandalous, social inequalities.”

In a country run economically by a few oligarchs, our beloved president is correct in being a countervailing force to the excesses of corporations that are enjoying so much rakings at the expense of the poor. That is especially true to water which is a means to life as no one can live without water and therefore must not be a means to make money. That is also true to electricity as cartel is putting these utilities under their absolute control to have tremendous profit at the expense of the consumers.

The so-called electric cooperatives which are only cooperatives in name, have perpetuated tremendous social injustice in the life of some 11 million member-consumer-owners (MCOs) who have already paid some 500 billion pesos as their capital shares for more than 50 years in their monthly billings in the form of reinvestment and amortization of loans, yet until now are not recognized.

The cooperatives whose reason for being is to promote social justice and equity in a country where only a few elite are in control of the resources and utilities, are now standing to that call. Indeed, it is very scandalous to have only 50 families pocketing 70 percent of the gross domestic product as what happened seven years ago. It is very scandalous to see farmers whose farms are producing food, yet their dining tables fall short of it. It is scandalous where the workers are producing the wealth of the nation, yet, they are living in utmost poverty.

It is indeed scandalous when the coconut farmers are poorest in a coconut industry that rakes billions for a few. It is scandalous when our indigenous people who once upon a time owned the vast tracts of lands but now are land poor, in fact, the IPs are now the poorest of the poor and 70 percent of the recruits of the Left for armed struggle come from them. It is very scandalous when the 11 million MCOs of the so-called electric cooperatives whose total capital shares have reached more than 500 billion pesos are living in poverty because they are deprived of their ownership.

It is scandalous that this country, agricultural as it is, doesn’t have food security and rice sufficiency despite years of brandishing all kinds of modern agricultural technologies. How painful it is to see hungry children amidst the bounty of the land, producing high value crops to feed the consumerist lifestyle of the people in the northern countries of the world.

Don’t you know that the annual income of Mr. Henry Sy of SM is about 430 billion pesos which is the equivalent of the total assets of some 18,700 cooperatives with some 11 million members? These cooperatives of those in the margins of development have worked so hard all these years to be drawn into the mainstream of development processes and still are struggling and are now being attempted to be taxed. What could be more scandalous than that?!

Be that as it may, unlike these billionaires whose rakings come from selling products from other countries, these cooperatives are selling what they are producing. Let notice be served that a country that is selling and consuming what it is not producing, that country will always be poor. In fact, all these years, our country has been a dumping ground of finished products at the expense of the millions consumers.

Don’t you know that a pill of Lipitor bought in New Delhi, India, at 30 centavos per pill is being sold in SM at P50? That a bag of ammonium sulfate bought in Ukraine at P30 is sold in Mindanao at P1,500?

Beware of making our country a dumping ground of finished products from other countries in pursuance of unbridled consumerism!

These many marketing layers will again be a big problem in the transport modernization program in selling brand new cars. I was informed that there is

nothing to worry as transport cooperatives are given the privilege to borrow from the Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank up to P2.5 million. I found out recently that the buying price direct from the car manufacturers (i.e., Honda, Toyota, etc.) in China is only P500,000 or so.

When this happens, so much rakings will again be benefiting a few capitalists in the car industry at the expense of the poor transport cooperatives. If the buying price is about P2 million in the Philippines of a brand new car that can just be bought at P500,000 direct from the manufacturer, you can just imagine the tremendous rakings as change of cars in modernization will reach tens of thousands! Transport cooperatives should buy directly from the manufacturer!

Enough of this social and economic scandal! Social transformation for people, planet, prosperity and peace is now the call of the times amidst the challenges of climate change and violent extremism. The imperative call for social change has come of age and the cooperatives are the LEADING EDGE.

It is the perception of the cooperatives that ending corruption falls short of the solution. They are socially aware that structures and systems that perpetuate poverty, gross inequities and corruption are still as formidable as ever. After 14 years of martial law and two people-powered revolutions, still, only a few oligarchs fronted by cartels, monopolies and conglomerates, continue to tighten its stranglehold of the economy.

But not anymore under the administration of our beloved president as His Excellency’s leadership has taken notice of the excesses of these oligarchs particularly on the water phenomenon.

The cooperatives nationwide are one with you Mr. President. It is the very essence of cooperativism to democratize wealth and power where the people are in control of their resources and utilities, where the farmers are in control of their land, technologies and marketing, where power lies with the workers and not in capital, and where money is used not to make more money but to enhance the well-being of the people.

It is only then can we end such scandalous set-up when the cooperatives exemplify their true essence which is that of being transformative to effect social change. MABUHAY ANG KOOPERATIBA!


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