[imc-qc] News - Reflections from PREDA and Fr. Shay Cullen,
Philippines # 155
PREDA Information Office
predair at info.com.ph
Tue Dec 14 19:23:26 PST 2004
Killing of poor farmers typify the Philippine social injustice
(republishing, copying, no restrictions)
By: Father Shay Cullen
Striking Filipino agriculture workers, including two small children were
killed when police and military opened fire during a strike at a sugar
plantation in Tarlac, Central Luzon. It typifies the situation in the
Philippines. The vast Hacienda Luisita owned by one of the most powerful
and wealthiest families were gunned without compassion or mercy. They were
protesting injustice and demanding land reform.
It highlights all that is wrong with the Philippines, massive wealth and
crushing poverty side by side. A few wealthy elite perhaps two hundred
families have more land, assets and money between them, some 70 percent of
the national wealth, according to some estimates, than the rest of the 84
million Filipinos together.
Is it any wonder that millions have fled to the slums and streets of the
cities their children begging and living in cartons, or are pimped to
brothels to satisfy the rich? Those Filipinos with education and skills
have fled abroad to escape the social injustice, low wages and abysmal
unemployment. The protest at Hacienda Luisita was because of low wages,
land rights and the harsh working conditions on the vast feudal like estate.
Protests are on the rise again. In Chile, at the APEC summit meeting
thousands demonstrated last week to highlight these very same issues. The
social injustice that leaves millions suffering hunger while the elite
wallow in sumptuous wealth and luxury cannot be ignored. The APEC summit of
the rich nations that are held responsible for the global inequality,
agriculture subsidies, unfair trade policies and the old age oppression of
the poor is epitomised by George W. Bush and his cronies. It may sound like
a well-worn cliche, it is, but nevertheless true and we need constant
reminding that is the way it is.
It is so sad that in this terrible killing of farmers in the Philippines
where the military and police opened fire on demonstrators without
restraint or tolerance happened on the huge land holdings of the
Cojuangco-Aquino families. The late Benigno Aquino, the martyred husband of
former president Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino is turning in his grave as his
son in embroiled in this fiasco. When he was assassinated by the cronies of
the Dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his wife Corazon Conjuangco-Aquino came to
prominence and led a peoples Power movement in 1986 to topple the tyrant.
She had the power the opportunity and the moral enlightenment to initiate a
powerful agrarian reform programme but she was assailed by military coup
attempts backed by vested business and landed interests and got now here
with land reform.
The great Spanish-Filipino families were allowed to continue owning the
land and industry (with American partners) during the American colonial
administration (1899 to 1945). Today they remain in the seats of power.
They form family dynasties and clans, forge interlocking directorates in
industry by marriage and alliances and do political battle with each other
over the presidency congress and senate.
With the levers of power in hand they legislate, approve appointments, give
themselves huge funds for pet projects and generally act to befit
themselves and their cronies. They place family members in the police and
military where corruption is equally prevalent and they are only too ready
to suppress protest and unrest.
The greater public good is at the bottom of the agenda if they're at all.
Education, health, social services are in the dumps. Schoolbooks are, by
law provided by private suppliers and are found full of inaccuracies. Huge
profits are made from this junk.
Unless this strangle hold of dynastic driven corruption is broken there can
be no end to the corruption, oppression and poverty. Small changes and
improvements can be made to the operation of government by international
bodies and local non-government agencies pushing for good governance but
they are fleas on an rogue elephant's back.
While the families of the striking sugar plantation workers bury their
dead, including two small children, and dress their wounds, there is little
hope that the blood will change anything other than harden the hearts of
the wealthy elite and blame militants for the bloodshed.
Instead of genuine land reform, the hacienda in Tarlac was reorganised into
a corporation with shares held by the workers. The impoverished workers say
this is a sham, yet most farmers working in the hacienda either out of
fear, intimidation or debts vote with the major stockholders who are in
fact still the de facto owners.
Congressman Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III the son of much admired former
president says he will abide by the vote of the majority. Jigs Clamora
spokesperson for human rights organisations under the banner of KARAPATAN
Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights said: "Obviously, the striking
workers have no gainful employment and are not receiving equal pay and the
Hacienda Luisita have not met their workers' needs. We understand that this
is what impelled them to go on strike. We also call for an impartial
investigation and justice for the victims of human rights violations
committed by the AFP and PNP. They must be held accountable for this
dastardly act." To that we can only say, "Amen".[End]
This email was sent to you because your email address was subscribed to us.
If you do not wish to receive further mailings, just please reply to this
message and enter 'unsubscribe' at the subject line. You may then be
rest-assured that you will never receive another email from us again.
PREDA Information Office
PREDA Foundation, Inc.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the imc-qc