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SERVE the People, Especially the Poor & the Oppressed

Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera
Let Not a Single Drop of Rain Go Out to the Sea, Without Serving the People

It was then the period of Martial Law and I remember writing an article entitled, a Barrio in a Cage, a story about Panalsalan, a barrio in Maramag, Bukidnon, which had been enclosed by a rich, influential Congressman then from the Visayas with 6-feet barb wire, making the barrio as the Congressman’s ranch. I took pictures showing cows mixing with pupils at the elementary school or even entering a chapel during Sunday mass. The cows were the first to harvest the vegetables and crops, leaving the barrio people, the Higaonons, hungry and poor as ever. In fact, out of desperation, the father of a family mixed poison, Thiodan, in the food of his family at dinnertime and then committed suicide to join the family in the after-life. Another sad tale was on how a father of a family had gone crazy and burnt his house.

My advocacy to expose such painful societal truth was used against me by influential people, then put me in jail. Inside the prison cell, I wrote a poem, Veritas Liberabit Vos (The Truth Shall Set Us Free)

Such bitter experience turned me into a passionate writer which I carried as a Columnist, writing articles about “Veritas” that intend to motivate the readers to act to be set free out of painful realities which came about because of the people’s apathetic attitude.

When people are informed and conscienticized, collective actions follow. This had been the case of the ecological people in the uplands of Cagayan de Oro when upon knowing that indeed, there was no such thing as rule of law in environment, they readily took direct actions through human barricades to stop the massive flow of illegally-cut logs.

No less than His Eminence Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, S.J., who was then a priest and the Director of SEARSOLIN in 1991 reported to us that some fifty ten-wheeler trucks carrying illegally cut logs were passing Cagayan de Oro from one o’clock to five o’clock in the morning as he instructed his staff to monitor. When a security guard took pictures of these trucks, an armed escort ran after the guard. Thus, no way can deforestation be stopped but only through people’s direct actions.

For ten-years, human barricades went on, beginning first in 1991 with some 300 farmers, Indigenous People and fisherfolk, lying in the street and dared logging trucks to run-over them before these 50 logging trucks at dawn could pass. Then, in 1999, the number of barricades went up to 6,000 and finally, we put in clear categorical term the statement, “The people united can never be defeated.” Finally, the rule of law won. Why? No greater love there is that these passionate ecological people willing to give-up their lives to protect God’s vanishing creation which we believe is the highest form of worship.

This time, the people direct actions are not anymore on barricading logging trucks. This time, the actions are long term on a much broader context but the strategy remains: mobilize the collective power of the people, especially those in the margins so that they can be drawn into the mainstream of development processes.

The urgent call of the times now is to effect social transformation for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace to unfetter the people from extreme poverty, hunger, massive oppressive, climate change and violent extremism.

Yes, for those who have dreamt, advocated, sacrificed, and even died for it, social change has been so elusive all these years, despite 14 years of Martial Law and two people-powered revolutions. The systems and structures that perpetuate oppression, social injustice and poverty are still as formidable as ever.

Three questions should now be asked: Who Controls? Who Decides? Who Profits?

Yes, only a few oligarchs. How do we then democratize wealth and power in a highly skewed societal order? Only by putting power where it rightfully belongs – to the people. But first the people must be awakened from their deep slumber4 through VERITAS LIBERABIT VOS (the truth shall set us free.)

But, when Veritas is spoken or written, there will always be corresponding countermeasure from those who cannot moderate their greed. This is true in the 70’s in Panalsalan, Maramag, Bukidnon where the Higaonons, who were once masters of the land became the slaves of a powerful rancher. This is even truer now in the life of some 13 million member-consumer-owners (MCOs) of so-called Electric Cooperatives who until now are deprived of ownership of their respective ECs. Such is the height of social injustice, a Trojan Horse perpetuating a historical deception to some 13 million MCOs with a critical mass of 65 million people in a family of five.

Such social wrong can only be done thru cooperativism but any attempt to do this will merit a corresponding countermeasure from the Cartel and its strong cabal of vested interest. If such will be championed by an office that has been mandated to promote the viability of the cooperatives as instrument of social justice, equity and economic development, the head of that office will surely be subjected to endless harassments and even three attempts to his life. In fact the Ombudsman has found him administratively guilty for doing his ministerial duty of signing the Certificate of Registration of an Electric Cooperative which has passed the scrutiny and approval of all concerned CDA offices under him. Enough is enough of oligarchs masquerading as cooperatives. Just like in the Panalsalan case, he may go to prison for just doing his job.

But, no problem! At the end, Veritas Liberabit Vos!

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