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How to Liberate the Indigenous Peoples from Poverty & Oppression?

Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera
Tao Po Sila Hindi Basura

How oppressed are the Indigenous Peoples is well analyzed in a study that concluded: “Indigenous lands have become battlegrounds of conflict pitting communities against powerful forces that aim to grab the lands and resources to advance the political and economic interest in support of agenda that is driven by corporate greed. Dispossession and displacement of IP communities from their own ancestral lands continue unabated despite the recognition of IP rights in national as well as international human rights laws.” Mr. Ceasar Soriano & staff of PTV4 stayed for two weeks in Mindanao early last year and documented the issues besetting the IPs which was shown in three episodes in MAGANDANG GABI PILIPINAS entitled AGAW LUPA, AGAW BUHAY. Here is the summary based on the IP narratives: “Since 2016, a total of 92 individuals have fallen victims to extra judicial killings with around 160 victims frustrated EJKs; 227 IPs have been illegally arrested, detained and abducted and 27 reported being subjected to torture.”

In a virtual meeting with top government officials last year, two chairpersons of IP cooperatives Datu Modesto Pucol and Sultan Abdul Amoran narrated the issues and oppression the IPs are subjected to and they passionately asked, “Mr. Secretary Isidro la Peña, “kami po ba ay tao o basura?” Indeed, all of their narratives were concrete proofs that all these years, the IPs have been treated as disposable wastes. Well it is not surprising in a world that is giving so much veneration to the profit-motive that has already captured the mindset of all governments, all institutions, all universities and even of religious groups against the backdrop of so much denigration of spirituality, buried in so much materialism and consumerism that has sacrificed mother earth to the altar of greed and profit, how do we now awaken humanity from deep slumber? The mainstream media is controlled by those who are in control and continue disseminating gospel of advertisements to perpetuate unconsciousness to hide the truth. This is especially true in the discounting of the climate crisis in pursuit of short-term profit by the 19 Fossil Companies that will not allow the discontinuance of their massive raking of some16 trillion dollars annually or 10 million dollars every minute. The truth about climate change that is putting civilization in the state of planetary emergency is being hidden. Such is a crime against humanity. In this process of subversion, there are three kinds of actors: those who tell the lies, those who repeat the lies and those who allow themselves to be seduced by the lies.

We should not allow these lies to continue. While we are now in the state of planetary emergency as climate change indicators have escalated so quickly that an emergency response is imperative if civilization is to avoid breakdown and eventual collapse, it is already too late to organize a robust movement. What we can do is to create awareness among the 12 million cooperative members nation-wide and the 1 billion members worldwide to awaken and transform the cooperative movement to be true to its DNA of being value-based and philosophy driven and above all, of being sustainable.

The Philippines is the 4 th in the world worst hit by climate change according to the UN’s Risk Disaster Index. The most affected are the rural ecological people aggravated by the on-going protracted war. This is the conclusion of the Study by the World Bank as reported by the Food and Agricultural Organization. This is the reason why 4 of 5 farmers especially the young ones are now leaving farming and going to the urban centers to work as janitors, waiters or drivers that are now highly congesting the cities. This is also the reasons why the rural people are going abroad as 6,000 Filipinos were leaving daily during the pre-covid time, leaving their families behind to work in other countries.

Not only shall we address climate change; let us also bring peace especially in the resource-rich Mindanao where the second longest war in the world – the Mindanao War – must now be stopped. But how? By uprooting the root causes of war – poverty, gross inequity and social injustice. No less than Pope Francis said when he visited Malacañang a decade or so ago that “it bids us all to break the bonds of social injustice and oppression that give rise to glaring and scandalous inequities.” Yes, in a highly skewed societal order where only 50 oligarchs control the economy, let us now advance cooperativism as the great equalizer.

Our vision/mission is to strengthen IP cooperatives to become a countervailing force against climate change and violent extremism. This has become so inspiring, manifesting a peaceful approach to end protracted war. The urgent call now is to organize the 15 million Indigenous Peoples in their 1,200 Ancestral Domains. Why the imperative need? Know that the poorest of the poor now are the Indigenous Peoples whose land and water rights are being violated. In Mindanao alone, some 63 IP leaders have been killed in the last 5 years? For what? For resisting massive land grabbing by Trans-National Corporations in cohort with powers-that-be. Look at the very resource rich Mindanao. Who controls? Who profits? Who benefits? Some two hundred thousand hectares – the choicest of land – which were before owned by the Indigenous Peoples have been transformed into massive plantations to satisfy the consumerist lifestyle of the people in advanced countries while the Filipinos cannot even produce enough staples for its hungry and malnourished people
like rice and milk. Isn’t paradoxical that our country is the biggest importer of rice? Don’t you know that 99% of the milk that we consume is imported? Indeed, the culprit is what you call corporate globalization!

We are now in the frontline on documenting the issues confronting the IPs to resolve the issues not through armed struggle but through cooperativism. Our approach is to help the IPs include massive planting of giant bamboo in hundreds of thousands of hectares that have been denuded through massive logging and mining in the last 7 decades. We will also capacitate the IPs to transform their Ancestral Domain into massive abaca, coffee and cacao plantations and in raising livestock especially cattle for dairy projects. EMPOWER THE IPS THROUGH COOPERATIVISM to counter poverty and to end the second longest war in the world. And most importantly, counter climate change as bamboo is a good carbon sink, water holder and most importantly, an alternative to fossil fuel.

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