Uproot the Root Cause of Insurgency
In the book, “The Little Prince,” it was amazingly said, “only through the heart that one can see clearly, what are essentials are invisible to the eye.” This truism can be well attested by 1st Lit. Jerome Jacuba, the Chairman of the Wounded Soldiers Cooperative with some 120 members who became disabled in doing their duties bravely as soldiers in the World’s 2nd longest war, “The Mindanao War.” Chairman JJ as I call him is a brilliant brave military official who became totally blind four years ago when a bomb exploded in an encounter in Maguindanao. As he was recovering then in VLuna Hospital, no less than then Commander-In-Chief President Rodrigo Roa Duterte visited and even embraced him with tears in his eyes. A year after that incident, the wounded soldiers who now belong to PWDs (Persons with Disabilities) were organized into a cooperative ked by no less than Chairman JJ who became a good friend whom I brought along with me when I visited the cooperatives of the internally- displaced- persons (IDPs) in Marawi during the Marawi Siege in 2018 as I was then the USEC/Chairman of the Cooperative Development Authority until 2021. Some of these participants of the Summit were former combatants either of the MNLF or MILF who are now organized into cooperatives but once were in combat with the military where 1st Lt. Jacuba was leading. This time, they belong to one family, the cooperative family. In that Cooperative Summit attended by thousands of formers MNLF/MILF combatants, I requested Chairman JJ to give the Closing Remarks and I was so amazed by his speech when he said, “BEFORE WHEN I HAVE EYES, I COULD NOT SEE; TODAY THAT I AM BLIND, I CAN SEE THAT THE WAR IN MINDANAO CANNOT BE STOPPED THROUGH GUNS, BOMBS OR BULLETS BUT THROUGH COOPERATIVISM. ANG PROBLEMA PALA AY KAHIRAPAN AT SOCIAL INJUSTICES AT ANG PANGLABAN AY HINDI BARIL O BALA KUNG HINDI ANG PAGKAKAISA PARA LABANAN ANG GAMOT NG KARIHAPAN.” Yes, Chairman JJ maybe physically blind but not socially, environmentally, economically, politically and more so, spiritually. What is even more amazing is that Chairman JJ and all the wounded soldiers are now being assisted by the cooperatives under the “Koop Kapatid Program” to regain hope and to fight another “war,” this time against poverty, inequities and social injustice. The cooperative of the wounded soldiers through the Cooperative Kapatid Program has now been drawn into development processes and programs, even running a Training center in Batangas. Through cooperativism, there are a lot to see and to discover. Indeed, we are living in a world that is changing profoundly, where extra ordinary phenomena are becoming ordinary: deepening inequality, decline in social justice, ecological turbulence due to climate change and recently, violent extremism that had put to center stage a Filipino suicidal bomber. There is apparently a dysfunction of the present development model that is growth at all cost that is likened to a giant off balance. So as not to fall, it has to run and in running, it steps on communities , forests, seas, rivers, agricultural lands and even on people themselves, leaving havoc on its path. Yes, there are a lot to see, to reflect upon and to understand socio-economic environmental realties. We must “see” that we have lost our ecological integrity and security because we have allowed a few greedy loggers and miners to massively exploit our natural resources. I have heard that a logger in the past could earn as much as three hundred sixty million pesos in just one shipment of logs. Yes, the relevance of cooperativism is now being seen during these most challenging times to democratize wealth and power in a highly skewed societal order. In fact, as the wounded soldiers formed their own cooperative, they are joining people from all walks of life now numbering more than 20 million members. They now see that the only way to draw the marginalized sectors into the development processes is to harness their collective spirit, to pool their resources together, although how meager, to fight poverty and hunger. Yes, the people from all walks of life are now serving notice to one and all that they have awakened and will not allow anymore poverty, corruptions, apathy and deceits. Enough of the selfish pursuit of instant wealth, power and self-aggrandizement. It is time for collective action to unfetter the people from the vicious cycle of economic difficulties. Welcome 1st Lt. JJ to the world of cooperativism. You have bravely fought a war in Mindanao, giving up your eyes and was even willing to give up your life so that others may live. Indeed, what greater love there is than one brave soldier willing to die so that others may live! To you dear Chair JJ , our firm salute and warm embrace. Chairman JJ and the courageous wounded soldiers have shown that indeed the way to stop rebellion is not through guns or bullets but by uprooting the root cause of insurgency. It is painful to note that while our health centers don’t have sufficient medicine, our pupils are without educational materials and the aged, the persons with disabilities and those in the margins are not well assisted by DSWD for lack of budget, yet the ELCAC fund has ballooned to tens of billions. Such gargantuan budget should instead be used to uproot the root causes of war by drawing those in the margins into the mainstream of development processes to end poverty and promote social justice. No less than the Constitution has declared that “the State shall promote social justice in all phases of national development.” Such is the categorical mandate of the cooperatives as declared in Chapter 15, Art. 12 of the 1987 Constitution as now being exemplified by chairman JJ and the wounded soldiers cooperative.