The counter-insurgency war is definitely anti-development; corruption and plunder is utterly anti-poor

August 23, 2006 at 6:05 am | Posted in Human Rights | 1 Comment

“Some guys have all the luck;
Some guys have all the pain”
–Rod Stewart, popular rock star
 
What does Jocjoc Bolante, Nani Perez, “Garci” Garcillano, Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia and Jovito Palparan have in common? They are those called by Rod Stewart as “some (of the) guys (who) have all the luck,” for they are Malacañang’s favorite operators, criminally condemned yet judicially unscathed.
 
And what does the Tagaytay 5, the Erap 5, the Batasan 6, the OFWs doomed in Lebanon, the 730 or so victims of political killings and the nursing students of Class 2006 have in common? They are those pertained by the British rock star as “some guys (who) have all the pain;” they who have been clear victims of the brutal and arbitrary conduct of the Arroyo government’s counter-insurgency war, and victims of state corruption and plunder.
 
As Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s anti-Communist all-out-war rampages with its new dead victims in the entire breathe and length of the country, GMA’s Oplan Bantay Laya stifles productivity specially in the countryside; deepens fear among the people which will traumatize them for a long, long time; and definitely impedes genuine development efforts.
 
In the same vein, the malignant corruption and plunder of government coffers deprive our people of the much-needed wherewithal to survive the economic uncertainties and vagaries brought about by the anti-poor globalization scheme imposed on the industry, service and agriculture sectors.
 
The common experiences of the “Tagaytay 5” as rural development workers and farmers in Cavite and Batangas attest to this correlation between the all-out war and development efforts, and between corruption and poverty. On the occasion of the public hearing of the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture and Food chaired by the Honorable Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. on the basis of Senate Resolution No. 543 authored by the Honorable Senator Ma. Consuelo Madrigal, we, the Tagaytay 5, categorically states the following:
 
Beginning crop year 2000-2001, the farmgate prices of coffee and millgate price of raw sugar suffered dramatic drops. From a “normal” market price of PhP250-300 per can of dried green bean coffee since 1995, coffee farmgate price dropped to pay-dirt levels of PhP80-100 per can in 2001-2002. Meanwhile, sugar millgate prices plummeted from PhP1,200 per 50-kilogram bag to PhP560 per 50-kilogram bag in crop year 2003-2004.
This dramatic drop war largely due to product and price dumping attributable to the large commitments made by the Philippine government to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to slash tariffs, and allow cheap imported coffee and sugar from the European Union (EU), the United States of America (US), Vietnam, Thailand, India and other countries. Price drops were also exacerbated by rampant smuggling, especially of cheap sugar from Thailand and India. This occurred as farm input prices rose unabated – from PhP350 per bag to PhP530 in 2004.
 
Faced with a sharp loss in farm incomes, the Kalipunan ng mga Magbubukid sa Kabite (KAMAGSASAKA-KA), a provincial farmers association in Cavite; the Samahang Magbubukid ng Batangas (SAMBAT), a provincial farmers federation in Batangas, the (KAISAHAN), a federation of sugar workers union in Batangas –all local chapters of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)- decided to launch an advocacy campaign to pull out Philippine agriculture from WTO; create more domestic demand for our homegrown coffee and sugar; and, explore fair trade agreements with some foreign niche markets, coupled with piloting viable side occupations. We pursued these advocacy and development efforts in cooperation with the office of the Honorable Representative Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, the Diocese of Imus, progressive party-lists, and the academe like the Cavite State University. Before the election of 2004, some local politicians promised hundreds of bags of fertilizers “coming from DA (Department of Agriculture) and Malacañang. However, not a bag of fertilizer ever came.
 
We were able to take-off in crop year 2004-2005 with our locally grown coffee and muscovado sugar being shipped to Canada and some local markets. We bought coffee and muscovado with significant mark-ups for the farmer-producers, way above the “normal” market price. Our farmers were satisfied with the “new fair trade”, and so with our newfound markets. And so we thought we were on our way into developing a niche market with guaranteed prices for our farmers.
 
Yet, it now appears that not everybody was happy with our projects and programs. This we realized when the anti-Communist rampage by the Cavite Provincial Police Office and the Armed Forces of the Philippines hit us and declared us as NPA guerillas operating in Cavite and Batangas after they abducted us at sundown of April 28, 2006. What made our abduction, seven-day incommunicado plight, and continued illegal detention extra-painful is the fact that the project funds allotted for a new shipment of coffee and muscovado sugar, and new livelihood projects such as swine- and cattle-raising were clearly stolen by our heavily armed abductors on that fateful night of April 2006.
 
We were able to endure the pain and anxieties brought about by the abduction and harrowing experience of being subjected to physical harm and psychological violence. What really pains us all the more is the fact that the farmers’ small livelihood projects were cropped abruptly, literally at gunpoint!
 
And as the fertilizer plunderers, election cheaters, privatization profiteers and corrupt comptrollers continue to defy the retribution of Justice, the Tagaytay 5 suffer from prolonged illegal detention – padlocked in a 5 x 6 meter jail, without windows, without benefit of sunlight and outdoor exercise. And while high-profile grafters and murderers go scot-free to continuously wreak havoc and mayhem on our people, unarmed civilians, development workers, and legal oppositions (including Senator Jinggoy Estrada) are being harassed, killed or detained on the basis of planted and manufactured evidences and cooked-up intelligence reports of the police and the armed forces.
 
We invoke the principle of equal protection of law. We demand from Mrs. Arroyo’s government our immediate release from detention. We are not asking for the preferential treatment that it shower to its coterie of muleteers in barong or fatigue uniforms. They are the genuine destabilizers of the Arroyo regime yet the best teachers of the people on the true nature of the State.
 
On the occasion of this Senate public hearing, we renew our unrelenting vow to pursue genuine development efforts. We offer to the Honorable Senate our humble services on Agrarian Reform, Rural Development and Environmental Protection. We ask the Honorable Senate to intervene meaningfully on behalf of the Tagaytay 5 and our families, and cause the Tagaytay 5 to be released in cognizance to the custody to the proper Senate office.
 
Tagaytay 5
23 August 2006

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  1. extend my symphaty to all the victims of human rights because of the criminalization and war of the government against the progressive groups of our country. it is indeed very dissapointing to know that the target of our so called pro poor government are the poor people itself of our country.
    my continuos support to my comrads our comrads tagaytay 5, axel and riel tuloy ang laban sa cavite ng mga binabayong magsasaka. tagumpay sa kalaunan para papanagutin ang naghaharing uri sa ating lipunan.

    MABUHAY TAGAYTAY 5! MABUHAY ANG APING MAGSASAKA AT MABUHAY ANG KAMAGSASAKA!
    TULOY ANG LABAN HANGGANG MAKAMIT ANG ATING TAGUMPAY!!!!!!!


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