Monday, November 30, 2015

Entrepreneurial Farmer
by Ambrosio R. Villorente

Media in conflict management appears very simple topic to discuss. However, the topic is interesting and very useful in our everyday life. Media is information channel and interpreter of issues in political, cultural, social and economic issues.
As discussed in a recent seminar among students of the Northwestern Visayan Colleges in Kalibo, Mr. Angelo B. Palmones demonstrated to the students the need in our daily life “Conflict Management”. Mr. Palmones is the Assistant Vice President for News and Current Affairs, Manila Broadcasting Company – DZRH. He is also president of AGHAM, Inc.
It is very important that members of the media or press must know and appreciate the importance of conflict management as: media shapes stories that the members cover, journalists have opinions and beliefs; media owners like radio/TV and newspapers have economic interests, and they want to sell their stories, and programs to the public. Most of the time, media covers conflict and they tend sometimes to distort realities. They lead people to think that conflict is pervasive and peace is abnormal.
Media responds to more imminent problems such as the weather, traffic and natural disaster among others. As a watchdog, media gives feedback to the public on local problems like the traffic problem in Metro Manila . Media brings hidden stories out into the public view like the “Tanim Bala” in the NAIA. 
Media sets agenda, filters issues and maintains balance of views. These are done by presenting the views of all sides.
 It is hard to believe, but media is a policy maker. A media outfit such as radio/TV stations and newspapers must establish and maintain credibility in order to earn the respect of policy makers. Opinions and recommendations of members of the press who had earned good reputation and with high credibility can easily influence policy and decision makers to accept their recommendations.  Media can also be a tool of policy makers like government officials and business leaders to get across their message. 
In foreign policy of a country, media can serve as a diplomat who sends messages back and forth between and among all sides of a conflict like the conflict in the Philippine sea. Media helps break diplomatic deadlock and assists in the promotion and mobilization of public support for agreement. It helps build confidence between the parties, as it bridges the gap between and among them.
The government should provide all available assistance to farmers affected by typhoon Lando to enable them to rebuild their lives as soon as possible, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos strongly suggested. 
“Assistance to the victims should not end with just the distribution of relief goods. We should give adequate support to our farmers so they can resume planting and return to normal as soon as possible,” Marcos added. This suggestion is worthy of consideration and approval. 
 The government should provide cheap credit facilities to the affected farmers like the Sikat Saka program of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
 Other credit facilities available include the Agro-Industry Modernization Credit and Financing Program, Agri-Microfinance Program, and the Cooperative Banks Agri-Lending Program of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council.
 “But as much as possible the process should be simplified so the farmers could avail of the loans as soon as possible,” Marcos suggested. Forget the voluminous supporting documents. The farmers’ crops must be covered with insurance under the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation to ensure they can rise again from the devastation of typhoon Lando.
 The DA should field its technicians to help farmers determine the best use of lands submerged in floods and covered with thick mud. It must also provide seeds to farmer affected by the typhoon. 
Some 152 years after the birth of Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the revolutionary movement Katipunan, exploitative conditions in vast haciendas and plantations remain in the Philippines.
 The national agriworkers federation Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) said that farm and agricultural workers continue to slave away to produce cash crops for the interests of foreign enterprises and the local landowning elite – the same cycle of oppression that Bonifacio and the Katipunan sought to change.   
    “Land reform and the emancipation of farmers and the people were the main aims of the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Up to this day, however, brutal oppression in these types of landholdings persists and continues  to cause misery to farmers and agricultural workers,” said Ranmil Echanis, UMA Secretary General. 
The hacienda system was introduced by Spanish colonialists in the 19th century to pro 
duce crops for export.  This system was further encouraged by the colonial regime of US imperialism which maintained and depended on feudalism as its social base.
 “US Imperialism enlisted the loyal support of the local elite who allowed themselves to be tamed by the US for local political leadership.  This became necessary for the US to ensure the continuous supply of raw materials such as sugar, hemp, coconut and other agricultural products from its new colony. This also favored the interests of the local ruling elite who were either landlords themselves or compradors.” 
“The loyal adherence of the local landowning elite and big comprador bourgeoisie to impositions of imperialism make up the semi-feudal economy which plagues the country up to the present,” said Echanis. Spanish-era haciendas like Hacienda Luisita and plantations established during the American colonial period like Del Monte Foods, Inc. are still in existence and continue to operate.
 These landholdings are part of the millions of hectares of agricultural land that are tied down to onerous contracts between supposed land reform beneficiaries and giant agribusiness firms. The government’s failed agrarian reform program CARP works perfectly for the interest of giant companies as it encourages agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to become out growers or to lease their lands with onerous contracts or agribusiness venture arrangements.
 “Instead of sincerely providing land to the tiller, the government is still targeting expansion of plantations,” added Echanis.  “Plantations have bred many forms of precarious employment victimizing agricultural workers enduring hard labor and exposure to harmful chemicals while being paid only slave-like wages.”
In Mindanao alone, these include the following:  256,360 hectares for sugarcane; 150,000 hectares for cacao by 2020; 116,000 hectares for rubber; 87,903 hectares for coffee plantation; and almost one (1) million hectares of oil palm plantations by 2030.  The multinational fruit giant Dole Philippines plans to expand to at least 12,000 hectares of land for its pineapple plantation; and Unifrutti, which recently invested P3.7 billion for an expansion of 2,600 hectares of land for Cavendish banana plantation in Moro areas such as Maguindanao.
 Foreign plunder continues to result in dispossession and displacement of numerous lumad, Moro and peasant communities. “The guardia civil of yesteryears are now replaced by the state and private security forces who brazenly violate the rights of the people,” said Echanis.
 “Bonifacio, the hero of the ‘anakpawis’ or toiling masses, continues to inspire farmers and agricultural workers to organize themselves and fight for genuine land reform and national sovereignty, ” ended Echanis.
 In Congress, UMA supports the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) or House Bill 252 filed by Anakpawis Partylist./MP

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