Ravanera: Social justice

IN A landmark decision by the Supreme Cort, social justice was given prominence when it was pronounced in the case of the Dumaguete Cathedral Credit Cooperative vs. Court of Tax Appeal that “while the power to tax is a supreme power of the State, taxes being the life-blood of the nation, yet such power must bow down to the principle of social justice which the cooperatives are advancing, thus, they are tax-exempt. And what is Social Justice? The Supreme Court has defined that principle in the case of Calalang vs. Williams when no less then Chief Justice Salvador Laurel Sr. of the Supreme Court defined it as the equalizing force against the rule of the oligarchs in a highly skewed pyramidal societal order.

Thus, when the 1987 Constitution categorically stated that we must “promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of social justice, equity and economic development,” this must be done in the following painful social realities.

Social injustice looms in the life of the peasantry tilling the land not their own. And if they own the land, they do not control the mode of production and marketing. This is the reason why our farmers are living all these years in the quagmire of poverty. Yes, everyone is profiting from farming but not the farmers working under the excruciating heat of the sun.

Social injustice is seen in the life of the Filipino consumers as our country has become a dumping ground of finished products. In fact, everything that is sold in the Philippines is passing at least 5 to 7 marketing layers. A bag of Ammonium Sulfate fertilizer bought by the capitalists in Ukraine at P100 is being sold in Mindanao at P1,500 after passing 5 marketing layers; Lipitor which is just bought in India at 30 centavos is sold in the pharmacies at P50 per pill.

But social injustice is very glaring in the life of the 11 million member-consumer-owners of so-called Electric Cooperatives (ECs). All these years, these ECs are carrying as their nomenclature of being cooperatives but in fact they are not.

A formidable arsenal of lies, deceit and fear-mongering and cash-backed lobbying has been unleashed to insure the continued proliferation and hold of private interests over electric cooperatives. A virtual army has been raised to combat the social and economic upheaval of the people. Member-consumers were enticed with bags of grocery items and other goodies to sway their mindset. Lies and deceits were employed to cast doubt on the economic viability of the electric cooperative if it would be registered with the Cooperative Development Authority. Rumors were spread and widespread fear was sowed that the electric cooperative would die in the hands of the CDA and that member-consumers would end up paying more if the registration with CDA would push through.

The foregoing lies, deceptions and fear-mongering are but just a few of the vast arsenal of money politics and cash-backed lobbying employed by some of the proponents against the registration of electric cooperatives with the Cooperative Development Authority. The multitude of forces let loose against the said advocacy is almost invincible, to say the least. Almost, but not quite.

Amid the intense barrage of attacks, the call for change is still being nurtured. The eyes and minds of the people have been opened. The time for total cooperativism of electric cooperatives have come. No army can withstand the onslaught of such clamor.

Enough is enough. For almost 50 years now, social injustice has been perpetuated against the eleven (11) million member-consumers of so-called Electric Cooperatives for the non-recognition of their capital shares that would reach, when consolidated, a total of 500 BILLION PESOS.

We must now rectify a social wrong committed against the Filipino people as the 11 million members cover some 55 million Filipinos in a family of 5.

The time has come to put in clear categorical term the Constitutional Declaration that “The State shall promote social justice in all phases of the Filipino life.” This can only be done through Cooperartivism.


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