The Philippines: Nation of cowards? Not anymore! Now the land of the brave and the free

By : Orlan Ravanera Mindanao Today/09:02:15am 08/06/2021


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IN the ‘90s, I had the privilege of representing the Philippines as an environmental advocate who was leading direct actions against illegal logging and illegal mining through direct actions through human barricades.

In one international forum in Ottawa, Canada, I had the honor of being invited in the annual environmental convergence called the Canadian Environmental Network Summit as guest speaker.

It was in that annual summit where a Canadian Environmentalist had described the Philippines as a nation oozing with ecological wealth, the richest on earth.

Based on his research, in the 5,000-hectare. Mt. Makiling or Mr. Kitanglad, “the number of flora and fauna found in that 5,000 hectares is far greater in number compared to those found in 1 billion-hectare continent of North America.”

But the wealth does not end in the shorelines as according to the President of the UN-Food and Agricultural Organization, “the Philippines Archipelago is the center of the center of marine life on earth.”

Wow, that was how rich our country is with regards to ecological resources. BUT NOT ANYMORE!

We already have lost almost everything. The 17 million hectares of dipterocarp forest are nowhere to be found as the Philippines had been supplying the timber needs of the whole world in the last century.

Of the 13 major bays, 10 are already “biologically dead” and the coastal communities are now the poorest of the poor.

Of the 25 major rivers, 15 are already dried-up or polluted.

The Philippine Archipelago had been treated at “dumping ground” of toxic garbage from other countries and the West Philippine Sea is now under the control of foreign power, contrary to the international arbitral ruing.

Why? As alleged in that international summit, “the Philippines is a nation of coward people.”

I told them, NO! The Philippines is the land of the brave and free!

But WHO CONTROLS? WHO DECIDES? WHO BENEFITS? The categorical answer is: THE ELITE! The oligarchs! IN COHORT WITH POWER THAT BE!

Now that election if fast approaching, magkano na naman ang ibibigay ng mga oligarchs sa mga politiko – by the hundreds of millions of pesos to protect the oligarchical interest?

Look at RICE TARRIFICATION. While rice is being produced by our farmers at P15 per kilo, we allowed the entry of rice being sold at only P10 per kilo.

While corn is being produced at P11.50 per kilo but why did we allow the entry of cheap corn substitutes to enter our country at the height of corn harvest?

Don’t you know that one farmer leader in Kibawe, Bukidnon committed suicide late last year “dahil baon na siya sa utang?”

Are we really a nation of coward people? No. I recently met with former combatants of the MILF-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces under Kumander Bravo.

They belong to MILF North-Eastern Mindanao Front and in 2008, they surrendered, about 30 who are members of the Higaonon tribe but with Muslim blood, stationed at Rogongon, Iligan City headed by Alvin Conto alias Kumander Alvin.

They were then continuing the “second longest” war in the world called the Mindanao War to counter the onslaught of social injustices, gross inequities, hunger and poverty.

As narrated to me by Kumander Alvin, “while Mindanao is so rich in natural resources but the Indigenous Peoples are the poorest of the poor.”

Yes, while we cannot even produce enough basic stapes for our people, i.e., rice and milk, yet, Mindanao’s choicest of lands have been transformed into massive plantations to satisfy the consumerist lifestyle of the people in advanced countries.

According to the indigenous peoples, their lands have been land-grabbed.

Every time their leaders would resist such great social injustice, they would be killed.

In fact, from 2016 to date, some 63 IP leaders have been killed in what they described as ‘AGAW LUPA, AGAW BUHAY!”

One of those killed in 2016 was the uncle of Kumander Alvin named Bonifactio Pianza known as “Datu Pindulona sa Dulangan.”

He was killed at five o’ clock in the morning in Purok Gabunan, Rogongon.

For what? For resisting the land grabbing of some 7,000 hectares of their ancestral domain.

Was the killer arrested? Well, the truth is, of the 63 killed in the last five years, not a single killer was arrested.

Thus, the cry now of the IPs is, “JUSTICE FOR LUMAD KILLINGS!

Question: As no one has been arrested, corporate globalization is winning in Mindanao by way of instilling fear!

In fact, of those killed, included was a five-year-old boy and a pregnant woman. Meron pa, patay na, kinatay pa!!

ANG SABI PO NG MGA LUMAD, KAMI PO AY TAO HINDI BASURA.

Please stop treating us like disposable wastes. Listen to the former MILF combatants: PAG HINDI PO NA BIGYAN KAMI NG TULONG AT HUSTISYA, BAKA BUMALIK NA KAMI ULI SA LARANGAN NG ARMADONG PAKIKIBAKA DAHIL HINDI PO KAMI MGA BASURA AT HINDI RIN PO KAMI BAYAN NG MGA DUWAG.

Yes, they are from the “land of the brave and the free – Mindanao!”


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