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Cooperatives Advancing Genuine Development

Kim’s Dream  Orlan Ravanera

No to Development Aggressions

If you are a member of a cooperative, REJOICE! You are highly adhering to the time-honored and universally-accepted cooperative principles and practices which are now the countervailing force to stop development aggressions, perpetuating social injustice.  Thus, as we are now celebrating Cooperative Month, let there be no mistake on the very essence of cooperativism otherwise we are no better than the neo-liberal capitalist advancing corporate globalization whose development paradigm can be likened to the workings of an auto-immune disease syndrome (AIDS), where no less than the body’s defense mechanisms are attacking the vital organs. 

Let notice be served to one and all that we in the cooperative movement are firmly adhering to the United Nations’ definition of development as the full development of human potentials, the expression of choices and opportunities. That for development to be so, it must pass a three-way test:  First, is it ecologically sustainable?  This means it does not harm the environment but nurtures it; Second, does it benefit the people? This means, responsive to their needs; and Third, does it have people’s participation? Unless, all of the three criteria are satisfied, no development can take place, only mal-development or development aggressions. 

It is quite puzzling that so much has been said about development, yet, we have totally destroyed the ecosystems and left the ecological people wallowing in poverty.  It is even a glaring paradox that we talk of agricultural development, yet our country is still not self-sufficient even on basic staples like rice and milk.  Yes, our country is the biggest rice importer country in the world and 90% of our milk is imported.  How’s that? We are supplying the consumerist lifestyle of the people in advanced countries with all kinds of high value fruits, yet, 85% of the Filipino people are malnourished?  Yes, everyone is profiting from farming except the poor farmers.

The IMF-world Bank spoke of development before, toppling down the forest ecosystem to give way to Chico River Dam in the Mountain Province despite the serious resistance from the Ifugaos led by Macliing Dulag. It was during that time that projects were just rammed down the throats of the populace and no amount of protest could stop such outpourings what had been described then as development aggressions.

That term development was again invoked in putting up the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant that cost the country more than two and half billion dollars, when the price should only be a billion or so. For interest alone, the Philippine government was paying an amount annually bigger than the annual budget of the health department for a mega project that had not at all produced even a single watt of electricity as it was established in an earthquake-fault area. What a tragedy in a country that cannot even put-up a hospital for the Indigenous Peoples who are dying early for not knowing what an anti-biotic means. It was the height of travesty, a Trojan horse that has sucked the nation dry of its economic blood burying us in heavy foreign debt that even the new born must pay for something that has not at all benefit the country,.

But we need not look far to see how the word is mangled beyond recognition.  The loggers have decimated our forests, industries have treated the bays as their waste pits as 10 of the 13 major bays in the country are now biologically dead, costly agricultural technologies tied-up to the use of heavy chemicals promoted, mangroves destroyed to give way to structures – – – all done in the name of DEVELOPMENT.  All of these speak well of development aggressions that must be rectified as we now advance cooperativism

Before the rectification process, it behooves upon all of us to re-examine what really is the essence of development and to define what it is not. It is not just providing for basic necessities such as food, shelter or clothing, even those in prison have those. It is not increases in Gross National Products as such may have just made a few elite richer at the expense of the many wallowing in poverty.  As cooperatives as provided for in the highest law of the land, that “The State shall cooperative members, let us reflect on what really is the reason for being of promote  the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of SOCIAL JUSTICE, EQUITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.” Be mindful of the essence of COOPERATIVISM: MEMBERS-OWNED (no one shall be left behind); VALUE-BASED AND PHILOSOPHY DIRIVEN & SUSTAINABILITY. Only then, can we have genuine development. It is in this spirit that we now celebrate COOPERATIVE MONTH.

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