The Many “Faces” of Social Injustice The Awakening Process Has Now Begun

By : Orlan Ravanera Mindanao Today/10:49:41am 07/27/2021


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(Note: This news article was published in the print edition of Mindanao Today on July 19, 2021)


The statement that globalization creates a knowledge society because of so-called technological advancement is nothing but a myth.

The glaring truism is that we are not living in a knowledge society if we don’t have the very basic choices that allow us to lead a human life, a life of dignity: allow us to know the horrible “faces” of social injustice in the life of the workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk and the common “tao” in a country that declares in the Fundamental Law (Art. II, Sec.10) that, “The State shall promote social justice in all phases of national development.” The workers are producers of the wealth of the nation, yet, they live in dire poverty. In fact, they are leaving in droves, as if jumping from a “sinking ship,” to find jobs in foreign lands, leaving their love ones behind at so much social cost.

Food comes from their farms but the dining tables of the farmers fall short of it, tilling lands not their own and if they do, tied-up to costly seeds and technologies that adhere to conventional agriculture which is beyond their control. They sell their products under the mercy of “compradors,” following an oppressive marketing system that makes their farming non-viable. Aptly described as the “unsung heroes” and the “backbone” of the country, yet, they wallow inside the vicious cycle of poverty. What makes it more painful is that there are agricultural programs designed to somehow alleviate their economic difficulties to increase their productivity (i.e., financial assistance for farm inputs and post-harvest facilities), yet, could not reach them as these are trapped in the pockets of those who cannot moderate their greed.

Based on a Study of the World Bank as reported by the Food Agriculture
Organization of United Nations, “in the Philippines only .02 percent is the growth of the agriculture in the Gross Domestic Product in the last decade.” Poverty is indeed worse in the rural areas which is even aggravated by the Climate Crisis as the ecological people are the victims of ecological degradation. According to the same Study, the rural people are the most affected by protracted war and violent extremism. As farming has become non-viable anymore, 3 out of 4 farmers have already left farming, going to the urban centers to work as janitors, drivers, waiters and what have you.

How about our indigenous peoples? Well, they have become “squatters” in their own native land as the ancestral land which their forefathers had occupied for hundreds of years are now converted into massive plantations. These are the “blessed lands” of our indigenous peoples and these are the choicest of land. According to a Study of the Development Academy of the Philippines, some 63% of Mindanao is now under the control of Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) and our IPs find themselves farming marginalized and highly steep mountainous areas. “Gamay lang nga tulod, ang kabaw moligid na.”

AGAW LUPA. AGAW TUBIG. AGAW BUHAY. That is now the order of the day in the life of the Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao. The hundreds of thousands of hectares of the Ancestral Domain have been land-grabbed by powerful corporations in cohort with power-that-be and when the IP leaders would stand to resist, they are killed. In fact, in the last 5years, some 63 IP leaders have been murdered including a lady datu for fighting for the IP’s water rights. Fear is indeed being used as a means to control the mind and to abuse the rights of the Indigenous People. In all of those killings, no one has been arrested. Thus, the killings continue without let-up.

The “blessed lands” have ceased to be so because these lands, where plantations have loomed, reek with poisons, having been bombarded for several decades with multifarious toxic chemicals, 8 of which are already internationally banned (based on the examined samples of water, air and soil in Davao.) Certainly, these chemicals are carcinogenic, the reason why cancer has become a common disease of the Mindanawons.
As for our fisherfolk, they are the ones catching fish, yet their children are hungry as malnutrition is highest in the coastal communities. This is so because the grandeur of the Philippine bays is now fast disappearing as they undergo progressive state of impairment and with it, the marginalization of the coastal populace. Unlike before when fish would
literally jump into their “banca,” fish now can hardly be caught. Why? What are the fatal blows causing the death of the once mighty marine and fishery ecosystem? Well, the bays are treated as waste pits. First is industrial pollution. Chemical waste from industries and factories are dumped in the bays. Other silent killers are the internationally banned chemical fertilizers and insecticides which are heavily used in
surrounding plantations. These non-biodegradable, petroleum-based agricultural inputs are washed from the soil into rivers and into the sea, entering food chain and polluting the watersheds. I am very
certain that these toxic chemicals are already in our water system, in the water that we drink or bath and water we use for cooking. Other countries have banned these chemicals, why are these being used by big plantations? Are we Filipinos guinea pigs? It is about time that we stop these plantations. For heavily using these toxic chemicals that have
harmed the health of the people, some of these plantations are barred to operate in their own respective countries. In Puerto Rico, these big plantations now operating in Mindanao were disallowed, that is the reason why they are operating (and expanding at that!) here in
the Philippines particularly in Mindanao. What a tragedy! Gumising na po tayo!


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