Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera
No to Extractive Economy
Of the country’s resources, be natural or financial, three questions must now be asked: Who profits? Who decides? Who controls?
Our country is oozing with ecological resources. Prior to the vanishment of the 17 million hectares of our dipterocarp forest, the Philippines was home to billions of flora and fauna that are endemically found only in our country. In fact, the number of flora and fauna found in a 5,000-hectare Mt. Kitanglad is far greater compared to those found in on billion-hectare continent of North America. But the ecological wealth is not just found above the ground; beneath are 72 kinds of minerals only found in Mindanao alone. But the wealth does not stop at the shorelines. Our archipelago has been described as the “center of the center” of marine life on earth. Paradoxically, amidst the bounty lies so much poverty. Why? Because the Filipino people are so powerless to benefit from these resources.
We can categorically answer that in the Philippines, it is never the people but only a few elites, the ruling class, the landlords, the TNCs, the cartels, the conglomerates, the monopolies through the growth-at-all-cost development strategy called extractive economy or corporate globalization. Poverty is rooted, not in the lack of resources but in the powerlessness of people to have access and control over their resources which are fast slipping through their fingers. That’s what development experts say. That’s what the people perceive now in the light of massive destruction of our ecological systems through massive extractions. In Cagayan de Oro alone, it is so shocking to know that its top quality gold are extracted by illegal Chinese miners carrying only tourist visa through open-pit mining using backhoes and heavy equipment that have tremendously destroyed our rivers and Macajalar bay though massive siltation, to the detriment of the coastal communities who are now living in hunger and extreme poverty.
Look at Mindanao, so rich yet so poor. While the island oozes with ecological resources, poverty is glaring in the life of the peasants who must till the land not their own. And if they do, they are victims to a mode of production and marketing system that they do not control. The farmers have been “robbed” of farming, using seeds and technologies which are not within their control but by big agri-business corporations.
Feel the pains of our indigenous people. They have lived sustainably in the forest ecosystem for thousands of years but now the 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest are almost gone and so are their “pharmacies,” their “marketplace,” notwithstanding that the forests are our invisible water dams, soil protector, climate regulator, carbon sink and “homes” to billions of flora and fauna many of which are found only in the Philippines. Now what we have are ecological disasters for massacring the trees and all life forms (the megadiversity) that once dwelt in the forest.
After losing the forest, there is now a tremendous pressure on land as these are now heavily “commercialized” by new entrants TNCs converting the land into massive plantations, to the detriment of our “lumads” who all these years are rendered powerless. Indeed, “Agaw Lupa, Agaw Buhay” as our Indigenous Peoples who were once the masters of the land that they wonderfully made productive following the culture of sustainability are now illegally deprived of their ancestral domains and if they resist, they are being erased from the face of the earth. In the last 7 years, some 101 IP leaders have been killed for standing-up to protect their land rights. In Butong, Quezon, more than 1,000 families belonging to the Manobo Pulangiyon Tribe are living in the last 6 years along the hi-way living under shattered tents and are just eating “Kamote” once a day, having been illegally ousted from their 1,111-hectare ancestral domain by a powerful corporation that has transformed their native land into massive plantation. But such is just a “tip-of-the-iceberg,” as the outpourings of the IP narratives manifest the truism how oppressed they are and are treated as just “disposable wastes.”
In Canada, no less than Pope Francis begged for apology “for the evil done by the Christians against the Canadian Indigenous People for the assimilation of the IP culture.” In Mindanao, the so-called Christians have already tortured and killed hundreds of IP leaders to instill fear as the enrichment of the Christians means the dispossession of the IPs of their native lands, yet, no apology has been done and such cruelty continues without let-up. Are we really a Christian country? It seems Satan is winning! Let us stop the fallacies of religion in this country as religious groups seem to side with the oppressors.
The Philippine environment is a sad tale of ecological tragedy characterized by massive conspiracy perpetuated by interest groups with their cabal of vested interest who profits, who decides and who controls the resources.