Kim’s Dream Orland Ravanera
PEOPLE POWER: Poor Farmers’ Counter Measure Against Government Inaction
“MABUTI PANG MAMATAY NA MAY PANININDIGAN KAYSA MAMATAY LANG SA GUTOM! PANAHON NA UPANG MANINDIGAN KAMI SA AMING MGA KARAPATAN, SA HUSTISYA AT SA KATOTOHANAN!”
No less than the highest law of the land categorically declared that a public office is a public trust and it is the primary duty of government to serve the people with the highest degree of professionalism and commitment.
The Philippines is an agricultural country, any short or long-term development can be won or lost through agriculture as 75% of the people are living in the rural areas who are directly or indirectly subsisting on farming as their livelihood. But it is so painful to note that based on the Study of the United Nations-Food & Agricultural Organization (UN-FAO), Philippine Agriculture has only contributed .02% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the last decade. In fact, of the 4 young farmers, 3 have already left farming and have gone to the urban areas to work as janitors, drivers, waiters or what have you.
In fact, everyone is profiting from farming, i.e., the fertilizer and seed dealers, the compradors, the usurers, but not those who are doing the back-breaking job of farming – the poor farmers. This is so because everything sold in this country passes at least 5 marketing layers, that a bag of fertilizer bought in Ukraine at only P100 per bag is sold in Mindanao at about P2,000. While their crops such as rice and corn are bought cheaply by compradors (middle-men) but sold much higher when such reaches the consumers. That’s how flawed our marketing system is to the detriment of our poor farmers. Farming in our country is so much tied-up to Conventional Agriculture, the reason why the peasantry is wallowing in poverty.
Who controls? Who profits? Who decides? Not the farmers but the oligarchs who control everything, i.e., seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, marketing, etc. It is only in our country where before the farmers were in control of seeds such as the indigenous native rice varieties like Azucena, Denorado which can be grown organically and were very healthy but these were replaced by so-called High Yielding Varieties (HIVs) that cannot be grown without the use of chemicals.
That’s how oppressed our farmers are. But the farmers’ oppression is even much worse in Sitio Kibaritan, Malinao, Kalilangan, Bukidnon as they are now living in extreme poverty and oppressed by men in uniform. Their farms planted with different crops, i.e., corn, root-crops, sugar cane, vegetables, etc. are being buck-hoed, tructored and griddered.
As documented by their Cooperative, the Kibaritan Farmers Higaonon Tribe Agriculture Cooperative, some 160 farming families are the victims and the total damage to them amounted to some two million pesos already in just the past two years. Their crops which were about to be harvested which is the source of their livelihood and food were totally damaged. Such horrible oppression is a great violation of their LABOR RIGHT as well as their human right. Such horrendous act runs counter to the Constitutional provision that “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law.” Such is also a great social injustice which is contrary to another Constitutional provision that “The state shall promote social justice in all phases of national development.” Their cooperative is now shouting for social justice and seeking assistance with sense of urgency from agencies of government which are mandated to help the peasantry, i.e., DENR, DA, DAR, CHR, etc. But until now, no assistance came. In fact, these agencies, instead of helping them, sided in favor of the oppressors.
In the case of DENR, it signed a Memorandum of Agreement with DND paying three geodetic firms as narrated by Atty. Ban Micheal Pacuribot Chief Legal Officer DENR Region X some 20 million pesos for the conduct of a Relocation Survey that surrendered the farmers’ land as part of the military reservation which became the basis of the destruction of their farms. In the case of the DAR, while documents have shown that their farms belong to what has been described as Alienable and Disposable (A&D) which is under the jurisdiction of the DAR, yet, no comment or protest that has been raised on the conduct of the Relocation Survey. In the case of the DA, it has released P299,650 fund to the Mindanao Army Training Group (MATG) in Kibaritan adhering to ELCAC initiative based on the false allegation that there are some 100 FR (former rebels) in Kibaritan. In the case of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR), such office is inutile in protecting the human rights not only of the oppressed farmers but of the five innocent children who on March 25, 2016 were victims of the blasting of an UXO (Unidentified Explosive Ordnance), killing outrightly three children and seriously wounding two children. Glaringly, the horrible incident happened because of the gross negligence of the men in uniform who did not even give a danger warning of the presence of explosives about 50 meters away from the Elementary School which was transformed into a “firing range.” CHR, your office is not only inutile but insensitive!
The glaring apathy and inaction of the above-mentioned government agencies run contrary to the Constitutional provision in Art. XI, Sec. 1, which categorically stated that, “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees, must at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, loyalty and effectivity, act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives.” Mesdames and Sirs, your lives of service must be a light amidst the darkness as the present issues of corruption continue to affect the civil service. Several reasons for these issues still exist because of the deeply rooted problems like nepotism, cronyism, militarization, political patronage as well as lack of transparency and accountability. Pity the poor and oppressed farmers in Sitio Kibaritan, Malinao, Bukidnon who are in dire need of your services as mandated by no less than the highest law of the land.
Firmly believing that sovereignty resides with the people and all government powers emanate from them. It is in this context that the poor and oppressed farmers in Kibaritan have decided to harness their collective power to be liberated from hunger and oppression – All for God’s greater glory – the Unseen, the Supreme Being who created us with dignity and freedom!