- Kim’s Dream
- Orlando R. Ravanera
The wind of change is now hovering from the mountains to the cities to rectify social wrongs, gross inequities, decline in social justice, climate change and violent extremism. Change is imperative and is now glaringly the call of the times.
In a country which undeniably is economically under the rule of the oligarchs underscored by no less than the President himself in his recent State of the Nation Address, the conscientization process is now in the offing with the outpourings of queries. Isn’t it that the Philippines is the richest country on earth with regards to biodiversity, minerals and marine life as described by no less than the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (UN-FAO), but who controls, who decides, who benefits?
Poverty looms amidst the bounty of nature that has been the subject of so much profiteering in the last one hundred years. Where have all the 17 million of dipterocarp forest gone that was home to billions of endemic species? Gone to loggers everyone whose massive rakings catapulted them to win elective positions. Don’t you know that in one shipment of logs alone, a logger easily pocketed some four hundred million pesos? Our finest of trees were cut in violation of environmental laws, i.e., no cutting in altitude above 1,000 meters or in slope with at 50% gradient. At the time that we were barricading logging trucks that were passing the thorough-fares of Cagayan de Oro City from 1am to 5am accompanied by well-armed goons, we were told that no one can stop them because 90% of those working to protect the environment were under the loggers’ payroll including those who should implement the laws!
With regards to the ecological wealth beneath the ground (minerals), we were able to arrest illegal miners at the time that we were implementing the Writ of Kalikasan in the Uplands of Cagayan de Oro. Arrested were three illegal Chinese miners holders of tourist visa. In their mining camp site, we found Ak-47, Armalites and grenades. Yes, we in Sulog were able to stop illegal mining and logging but at the expense of my good friend and fearless ally Datu Sandigan (Fausto Orasan), the Chieftain of the Higaonon Tribe in Cagayan de Oro who was murdered while advocating to stop all of these illegal activities. Until now the murderers are still scot free.
What greater love there is than one Datu Sandigan who bravely offered his life to Magbabaya so that the defenseless flora and fauna can continue manifesting the love of the Creator. This time, the conscientization process has begun. No one courageous environmental advocate can stop social wrongs committed against the Filipino People. We must now harness our collective power to be a powerful instrument of change not only on protecting God’s vanishing creation but to be instruments of social justice, equity and economic development.
In a highly skewed societal order where only a few elites, cartels and oligarchs are in control, even controlling mainstream media, let notice be served that social transformation has begun under the present dispensation. Stop the control of water and electricity for massive rakings as these are means to life. Stop the continuing violations of the rights of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) as provided for in the IPRA Law with regards to the IPs’ land and water rights. A Lady Datu by the name of Bae Lea has recently been murdered for leading in the struggle to stop the violation of their water right in San Fernando, Bukidnon. As I touched-base with the Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao, there were passionate outpourings of stories on how their rights were violated, ending such narration with a question, “Tinuturing kaming parang basura! Kami po ba ay tao?”
Indeed, the time for change has come but not through armed struggle. Harnessing the collective power of the people, especially the poor, the oppressed and the vulnerable is now the call of the times because the people united, can never be defeated! Such can only be done through peaceful and legal means called cooperativism, the powerful tool for change! That is the essence of what the United Nations was calling when in 2015 it issued the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which carried the Theme: “Transformative Cooperatives for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace!”