• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

The Cooperative Development Authority together with the 18,581 cooperatives throughout the country is strongly opposing the exclusion of cooperatives from rice importation We have come together with a firm collective intent and belief as pronounced in Sec. 15, Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution that the “State shall promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of equity, social justice and economic development.”  Thus, we now stand as one cooperative movement to firmly oppose the systems and structures of oppression that have all these years imprisoned the peasantry from the quagmire of poverty, social injustice and inequities.

Aptly called the “backbone” of the nation, yet, they have no strength as their daily life is characterized by so much inequity and social injustice. Yes, they do the back-breaking job of farming and have aged beyond their years, yet, they have not profited from farming. They till the land not their own and if they do, they do not control the mode of production, more so, of marketing their products. They don’t even have seeds as these have to be bought from big agri-business corporations, and so are the fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers are bought in Ukraine at only P50 per bag (Ammonium Sulfate), yet, when these reach the farmers in Mindanao, it is already sold to them at P1,500 to P2,000 pesos per bag.

The Philippines is an agricultural country; any short or long term development can be won or lost through agriculture. But who controls? Who decides? Who Profits? Apparently, not the Filipino farmers but big corporations based on an insane ideology called corporate globalization! While the Philippines is producing high value crops, i.e., pineapple, banana, palm oil, etc. to satisfy the consumerist lifestyle of the people in the Northern Countries, we cannot even produce the basic staples for our people, i.e., rice and milk. Our choicest of lands are controlled by global corporations, that have transformed our lands into vast plantations using chemicals heavily, many of which are already banned in other countries. Are you still wondering why many are dying of cancer?  Perhaps it is about time to subject Philippine agriculture to some reflection and conscienticized analysis!

While our farmers are producing rice at P13 to P15 per kilogram, yet we allowed the entry of cheap rice which is sold in our country at only P10 per kilogram because the farmers in Vietnam and Thailand had lowered down the production cost of rice to only P5 per kilogram. This was so because after the signing of the AFTA in 1997 in Cebu, no less than the King of Thailand took off his crown and robe and worked with the Thai farmers, telling them not to use chemical fertilizer as such kills the integrity of the soil. If possible, the King said, not to use tractors as the emissions contribute to climate change. He encouraged them to use carabaos because the wastes of the carabaos will fertilize the soil.  While this had happened in other countries in Asia, the Filipino farmers have all these years been tied up to a kind of farming where everyone is benefiting, i.e., the fertilizer and seed dealers, the compradors, the usurers – but not those who are doing the back breaking job of farming under the excruciating heat of the sun – the poor farmers!

Not only have these corporations have massive rakings through rice tarrification. Presently, the corn farmers are now in horrible dilemma as there is now  the massive entry of cheap corn substitutes such as wheat feeds that have brought down the price of corn to just P8 to P9 per kilogram.  Such is a big debacle as the millions of corn farmers are producing corn at P11.50 per kilogram.  Suicides, desperation, hunger and anger are now the common scenario in the rural areas.  Again, the insane ideology called corporate globalization has done so much damage in the life of the Filipino farmers who are now leaving farming as 4 of 5 farmers, especially the young ones, are leaving farming, going to the urban centers to work as janitors, drivers, waiters or dancers highly congesting the cities.

Today, our poor farmers who are now harnessing their collective power through their cooperatives are wondering why they are now excluded from importation of rice.  Yes, they are the ones feeding the nation, thus, when there is not enough supply of rice, they should be the ones to import as their collective power through their federations have made them financially capable to do so! What rice smuggling are they talking about? That could have never happened if the CDA’s requirements were just simply followed!!

A deeper analysis will tell us that when the economic dictatorship of rice cartel is grafted onto representative, electoral democracy, a toxic growth of religious fundamentalism and right-wing extremism is the result.  Thus, corporate globalization leads not just to the death of democracy but to the democracy of death in which exclusion, inequity and social injustice are brought to new heights.

As the Cooperative Development Authority is mandated by the highest law of the land “to promote the viability of cooperatives as instruments of equity, social justice and economic development,” we are therefore opposing the exclusion of cooperatives on rice importation! Punish the guilty ones who have connived with unscrupulous rice traders especially those using the tax exemption of cooperatives.  Many of these coops have already been delisted, dissolved and cancelled.  But allow those whom the CDA has endorsed which have been issued the Special Certificate of Good Standing by our office.

The CDA and the Cooperative movement have therefore come together with a firm collective intent to oppose such great social injustice to the Filipino farmers!