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HomeOpinionA Countervailing Force Against Rebellion in Mindanao

A Countervailing Force Against Rebellion in Mindanao

Kim’s Dream  Orlan Ravanera 

The Spirit of Cooperativism Shines Through

As biblically pronounced in Ecclesiastes, “for everything, there is a purpose under heaven.”  It was so amazing to have gone to Korakora, Munai in Lanao del Norte before my term with the government ended in 2021 when I was invited by no less than Kumander Bravo, the over-all commander of the North Eastern Mindanao Front in Korakora, Munai, Lanao del Norte of the  Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with some fifteen thousand MILF combatants together with their fifteen regional commanders.  All of them were carrying AK-47, but no problem, these brave warriors have just then declared a cease-fire as they have finally a voice in the Autonomous Region as Kumander Bravo was appointed then as an Honorable Member of the Parliament known now, MP Macapaar. The reason for the invitation as stated by MP Macapaar, “please CDA Chairman, help us organize the fifteen thousand combatants into cooperatives as we have decided to now uproot the causes of the Mindanao conflict, not anymore through bullets or bombs but through cooperativism.” 

Such was so amazing and I asked them why? They narrated to me that on my way to their headquarter, I passed by thousands of hectares planted with coconut that they own but the “kopra” is just being bought from them at P5 per kilo, the reason why they are so hungry and living in extreme poverty.  They have decided to go into value-chain, not to sell just “kopra” but go into the processing of coco-sugar after hearing that the cooperative in Linabo, Balingasag won against poverty when the coco-farmers went into value-chain through coco-sugar processing/manufacturing.  That time, coco-sugar was already being bought at P300 per kilo, wow, a great leap forward against poverty.   

So, I said “approve,” and sent some 10 CDA Staff to assist in organizing them into cooperatives and after two weeks, the 15,000 combatants were organized into 110 cooperatives. They have finally laid down their arms and were shouting, “MGA PAGARI AKON, SAMA-SAMA NA TANU KOOPERATIBA. ISA LANG ANG ARMAS NAMIN NGAYON – YAN ANG KOOPERATIBA.”  Now they are into manufacturing of “coco-sugar,” having been granted some assistance to put-up coco-processing manufacturing plants. That for us is so amazing.  Don’t you that at the onset of the 21st century, then President Joseph Estrada declared an all- out war against them, even using helicopters and tanks with some 100,000 military combatants but they were not defeated? This time, no more reason to go to war as both sides already won through cooperativism.

Let us therefore serve notice to one and all that indeed peace can be achieved in war-torn Mindanao by uprooting the causes of war which is hunger and poverty. Enough is enough of “red-tagging,” land-grabbing and treating the poor as disposable wastes through corporate globalization. Cooperatives have changed the life of the less fortunate and lawless elements of society who are deprived of the rights and privileges of having a comfortable life and finally find the loving embrace of the government. The spirit of cooperativism shines through amidst the darkness of poverty and social inequities. Where the poor becomes the poorest because they are powerless to craft their own destiny;  where massive hunger looms because of social injustice as the mode of production  and the  ownership of basic utilities are controlled by the most influential capitalists; where people are in dire economic difficulties because of lack of opportunities, skills and trust in the government.

The wonderful story of the NorthEastern MILF  Mindanao Front is not just an isolated case. The Binidlayan Moro Liberation Front (MNLF) Producers Cooperative was organized in the far flung mountainous area of Basak, Binidayan, Lanao del Sur.  Inhabited by the armed combatants of the MNLF, the MNLF cooperative is now scaling the heights as it is engaged into abaca and mushroom production and catering to nearby communities of its finished products. This is also true in Lantud, Talakag when the 1,500 combatants of the MILF Special Force under the command of Sultan Abdul Amoran, a half-Higaonon-half Maranao organized themselves into the IGPANADAYUG TA ABAGA SA BAYUG COOPERATIVE (Protect Mindamora Falls Cooperative in 2021. The cooperative has protected Mindamora Falls and has trailblazed in empowering both the Indignenous Peoples  and the Maranaos through cooperativism. 

What was even more amazing was what happened in Sibagat,  Caraga,  when an NPA commander known as Datu Subang, the chieftain of the 10,000-member Manobo Tribe, surrendered and formed a cooperative.  He became a brave environmentalist, went into putting-up Environment Training Centers in Sibagat to educate the Manobos on the oneness and inter-connectedness of nature.  Datu Subang fought against the market-driven economic paradigm that is sacrificing the people and the environment to the alter of Satanic greed; he instead bannered nature’s and sustenance economy with a firm belief that the economy of nature is like a “home” where the Indigenous Peoples are being taken- cared of and provide for their basic needs.  Because of his astonishing environmental advocacy and accomplishments, he received a National Award from Malacanang as an Outstanding Environmentalist.   

Peace may be elusive but not impossible if purposedly pursued with right intentions.  But such is not just happening in Mindanao. In the Province of Abra, hunting the elusive peace was finally seen at the end of the tunnel.  As the rebels came down in peace and joined the growing members of the cooperatives, warring members set aside their differences and actively participated in cooperative activities.

Indeed, we can have peace by drawing the marginalized sectors into the mainstream of development through cooperativism. We should not allow Filipinos to kill Filipinos as so much bleeding has already been done. Rebellion cannot be stopped through war; only by uprooting the causes of war – POVERTY and  GROSS SOCIAL INJUSTICES.  Let this truism be the focus during the COOP MONTH CELEBRATION.  Remember the RAIZON D’ ETRE of cooperativism as authored by no less than the “Father” of cooperatives nation-wide as one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, the late Senator Aquilino Pimentel: ‘”THE STATE SHALL PROMOTE THE VIABILITY AND GROWTH OF COOPERATIVES AS INSTRUMENTS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE, EQUITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.” Number one in SOCIAL JUSTICE!  ONLY THEN CAN WE HAVE PEACE, WHEN COOPERATIVES STAND FOR THEIR REASON FOR BEING WHICH IS, TO BE TRANFORMATIVE FOR PEOPLE, PLANET PROSPERITY AND PEACE.



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