• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

We live in a time of crises brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.  But there is even a much bigger crisis brought by super pandemic which is a thousand times worse than the corona virus that has caused not only world-wide famine, massive poverty, ecological destruction and deaths but has brought about the death of democracy and democracy of death. The super-virus pandemic is called neo-liberal capitalism, the global or market economy controlled by global corporations. That global economic system that is based on growth-at-all-cost development strategy that sacrifices the people and the environment to the altar of greed and profit. It has been said that the dominant development paradigm is like 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 in its path and treating the people as disposable waste.

Development that is based on individual pursuit for self-aggrandizement and wealth, where money is used not to enhance life and the well-being of the people but to make more money, is not anymore economically viable and ecologically sustainable. That kind of development (which is really mal-development) makes a few elite have much too much and the many who are poor much too little. In his latest State of the Nation Address, no less than the pro-people and well-loved President has underscored that enough is enough of oligarchical control especially of water and electricity which are means to life and must not be a means of massive rakings by a few elites.

In this country, you call that block capitalism where cartels run the economy, owned by only 50 families. To perpetuate their economic control, they must have a hold to power including that of the media.

Look at Mindanao, so rich yet so poor where 70% of the land (the choicest) is under the control of big agri-business corporations (based on a Study by the Development Academy of the Philippines.)  Where are our farmers, the so-called backbone of the nation?  They are tilling lands not their own, or if they do, they are tied-up to mode of production and marketing that they have no control.  They are also in marginalized areas, in slopes where their carabaos will roll-over downhill even with a little push.

The farmers are now in severe pain as the buying price of corn is at the high time low.  While they are producing corn at P11 per kilogram, it is just bought at P9 because of the massive entry of cheap corn substitutes and very cheap wheat feeds.

Our country has also become a dumping ground of finished products and source of cheap raw materials which are processed abroad then sold back to us at a high price.  What a tragedy knowing that a country that is consuming what it is not producing will always be poor.

Based on these realities, there must be a change. An increasing number of people want change. But how?  For those who have dreamt and struggled for it, social change has been so elusive all these years despite 14 years of martial law and two people-power revolutions.  The structures that are producing massive poverty are as formidable as ever. But not anymore! Under the present dispensation of President Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, social transformation has indeed come with the scaling-up of cooperativism that is empowering the poor and the vulnerable especially the Indigenous Peoples.  The  former combants of the MILF and NPAs have chosen cooperativism as the liberating force to uproot the root causes of rebellion  which is poverty and social injustices.

There must now be a paradigm shift towards an economic system that is based on collective cooperation where the people harness their collective potentials; where the marginalized sectors are drawn into the mainstream of development processes; where the people have access and control over their resources; where wealth and power are democratized; and where people and the environment are the priorities rather then business and profit.

That alternative development paradigm is called COOPERATIVISM whose.   DNA are as follows: members-owned, value-based and sustainable.  Its values are industry, honesty, hard-work, cooperation, equity, democratic control, and where people have societal concern.  Food security and ecological integrity are its parameters of engagement rather than extraction and exploitation of nature.

But Cooperativism puts power where it rightfully belongs, that is, with the people by harnessing their collective potentials.  This is so because the root cause of their poverty is their powerlessness to craft their own destiny.  Power meanwhile is with some traditional politicians, with the cartels and with those who control the information.  Come election time, they will again perpetuate their hold to power, protecting vested interest or those whom they are subservient to, especially those who are financing their candidacy.

Empowerment is now the call of the times because when people are empowered, it will give way to social structuring. That looming new structure is  cooperativism which is now considered the people’s preferred development model (according to the United Nations) as the cooperatives are now seen globally as the acknowledged leaders in the economic, social and ecological sustainability.

To quote no less than the amazing Senator Christopher “Bong” Go: “Cooperatives have become an important force in countryside development and nation-building. Not only have they contributed to the development of the sectors they represent but the empowerment of their respective stakeholders and communities.