Ravanera: Painful ecological, socio-economic realities

Orlan R. Ravanera

THERE can never be social change unless we Filipinos are conscienticized on the contemporaneous societal realities besetting Philippine society.  Only then can genuine social transformation be had when the right questions are raised.

Indeed, one’s transformation may produce a saint but has no effect in society unless oppressive structures and systems are changed.  This was aptly elaborated by the late Archbishop of El Salvador, His Eminence Oscar Romero: “When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint; when I asked why they are poor, they called me a communist.” The good Archbishop kept on asking that question to somehow enhance his constituency’s social consciousness to struggle against oppressive rule prevailing then in his country.  He had to be silenced through the barrel of a gun while he was celebrating a mass early morning.

Why was there massive plunder of our natural resources?

A century ago, three-fourths of the Philippines were wooded with some 17 million hectares of natural forest.  Today, only half a million hectares are left.  As our dipterocarp forest goes, so goes our mega-diversity composed of billions of living organisms, many of which have become extinct even before being discovered.

The few powerful loggers, many of whom were elected to key positions because of their tremendous rakings that used to buy votes, have created a strong cabal of vested interests including those who are tasked to enforce the laws.

Our once rich vast agricultural lands have become addicted to chemical-dependent conventional agriculture that is only successful in polluting our watershed and in further impoverishing the peasantry as big agri-business corporation have robbed the rural communities of their farming.

Our marine ecosystem fare no better as fishing communities continue to suffer from high poverty rate as the bays’ ecological integrity is fast vanishing due to the destruction of the mangroves and coral reefs. Massive siltation and pollution are giving final death blow to the marine and fishery life.

A study has shown that almost 70% of the ecological people (the farmers, fisherfolk and Indigenous People) are below poverty line because of the destruction of the ecosystems aggravated by social injustices,

Social injustice is where a few who are rich have much too much and the many who are poor have much too little.  It is where the farmers do not own the land they are tilling and if they do, do not control the mode of production and marketing of their products.

Social injustice is very glaring in the life of the eleven million member-consumer-owners (MCOs) of so-called Electric Cooperatives (ECs) in this country as these ECs are cooperatives in name only, based on a landmark decision of the Supreme Court in the case Philreca vs. Department of Finance.

All these years, the MCOs are paying for two items in their monthly billings which are, amortization of loans and re-investment.  Such payment should form part of their share capital which when consolidated will reach a gargantuan amount of more than P500 billion. Computations would disclose that for being an MCO in the past 50 years, each member should already have contributed about P50,000 as his/her capital contribution, yet until now, the same has not been recognized as such.

There is now a very strong advocacy to convert the so-called ECs into genuine cooperatives where ownership and management will be democratized not beholden to any cartel or upper-agency of government. This is based on the philosophy that there are things in life which are beyond the commerce of men because these are means to life, thus, the user must be the owner. But powerful cartels cannot moderate their greed and are continuing their massive rakings.

Cooperativism is the only countervailing force against these social injustices committed against the Filipino people!