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Their Justice, Their Democracy

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This note has also been posted around the campus.

 

The recent incident in Sitio Camarin, Brgy. Bonbon, Aloguinsan, cebu  shows that in this [democratic] country ruled by few elites, justice for the oppressed masses is hard to achieve.

I am one with the whole UP Community and the Filipino masses in condemning the inhumane eviction and arrest of the farmers and their supporters who guarded the 168-hectare land from land-grabbing by Gantuangcos who claimed that they are the legitimate owners of the land. The Gantuangcos plan to convert the land into a shipyard and a “special economic zone”. Among those arrested were three students of University of the Philippines Cebu who went there to integrate with the farmers, know their condition and analyze the agricultural problem in the country, in general.

The farmers of the San Roque Farmers’ Association have been camping out since March 2011 in the land to prevent the Gantuangcos from fencing it. They have been occupying and  tilling the land since 1910. Meanwhile, Karapatan-Central Visayas claimed that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) declared the land as a “public land” in 1964.

What happened just shows the flawed judicial system in our country. The court expected by the masses to promote social justice sided with the Gantuangcos by granting them Temporary Restraining Order so that they could go on fencing the land. The court order gave authority to the police to arrest anyone in the camp-out; thus, including the supporters and the students conducting an immersion.

It also exposes how the government ruled by families of landlords, bureaucrat capitalists and national bourgeoisie uses fascim in putting the oppressed masses into silence to defend their class. It no longer acknowledges the right of the people to assemble peacefully while airing out their grievances. The incident in Aloguinsan reminds us of the bloody dispersal of protesting farmers in Mendiola (Mendiola Massacre) under the Cory Aquino Administration and the bloody dispersal of protesting farmers and workers in Hacienda Luisita (Hacienda Luisita Massacre) owned by Cojuangcos under the Arroyo Administration when Pres. Benigno Aquino was still Tarlac representative.

It is ironic, though, that the government can deploy as much as 300-strong force of police, soldiers and SWAT elements from five municipalities to immediately disperse and arrest the unarmed rallyists but it could not deploy this many to immediately defeat one hostage-taker during the Quirino hostage drama last year.

It is also very disappointing to see that the national budget coming from the people’s taxes are spent much for militarization responsible for further oppressing the already oppressed masses like the while defending the few elites instead of spending it more for education, health and other basic social services.

Most of all, the incident reflects the sorry state of our farmers under the anti-farmer agricultural system in our country and the neo-feudal system of our society wherein much of our land is monopolized by the ruling class, specifically, the “landlords”. The predicament of our farmers is further prolonged by Pres. Cory Aquino’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program which, instead of distributing the lands to farmers, gives two options to the “landlords”: (1) Stock Distribution Option where farmers become stockholders or (2) conversion of the “agricultural land” into an “industrial land”. CARP has been responsible of as low as P9.50-share of the Luisita farmers.

Most of us tend to stereotype that poverty among the masses is due to their laziness. However, the Aloguinsan incident and all other related incidents would tell us that one of the real causes of poverty is the unequal opportunity given to the people. As long as the government appropriate more of the national budget to militarization and debt servicing than to education, health and other basic social services, as long as lands are not distributed to farmers and as long as much part of our ocean is owned by foreign investors, the masses will remain in poverty no matter how many “charitable programs” will be given to them by the government (such as its “dole-out” program) or by any socio-civic organizations.

Should the farmers be officially evicted, where shall they go? If they settle in the city, they would be considered illegal settlers subject to eviction. If the government resettle them, the usual scenario is that they will not be provided with adequate housing and other basic services and facilities mandated by RA 7279 or the “Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992”.

It is, then, of no wonder why many of the masses go up in the mountains joining the movement while the few elites of the ruling class enjoy the justice and democracy they bought through money and power.

References:

UP Cebu Nagkahiusang Kusog sa Estudyante

League of Filipino Students Cebu

Anakbayan Cebu

SunStar Cebu

***

Aside from being a colleague in serving the people, I can remember kuya Januelle “Jano” Rontos being the man behind the articles of personal opinion posted in the AS Lobby since the start of the school year. If I could remember, his first article was welcoming the first year students and challenging them to serve the people. As a tribute, I am now doing the same to continue what he has started while he awaits justice and freedom.

Meanwhile, when I talked with one of the students, a lady from University of San Carlos, who managed to escape yesterday, August 30, during the Indignation Rally at Campo Osmeña, I was very proud of kuya Jano, aside from the fact that he and other students like ate Melanie Montaño and ate Jade Manzon integrated with the farmers. The lady testified that it was her who was supposed to be arrested when kuya Jano pushed her away telling her to run. She went back, along with other students, to get kuya Jano telling the police that he was just documenting the incident. The police only replied that it was not him who arrested kuya Jano but the other police. Later, kuya Jano was dragged and put into jail.

May we emulate the heroism of kuya Jano, te Mel and te Jade who risked their lives in service of the oppressed masses,living up to what the Oblation symbolizes. May we all be inspired to go out of our comfort zones, integrate with the masses, and be united in protecting and promoting their rights. Let this not sow fear among us but empower us to fight. As what Dr. Jose Rizal said in his letter to the women of Malolos  (22 February 1889), “The tyranny of some is possible only through the cowardice of others.”

Ang isang Tunay na Iskolar ng Bayan ay yaong Palaban at Makabayan.

Ibasura ang CARP!

Isulong ang Tunay na Repormang Pang-Agraryo (Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill)!

Labanan ang pasismo at pyudalismo!

Palayain ang mga 39 na bilanggo ng Aloguinsan!

Palayain ang mga 3 bilanggong Iskolar ng Bayan!

Hustisya para sa mga magsasaka ng Aloguinsan!

SERVE THE PEOPLE! Padayon!

SELDA: Tula Para sa UP Cebu 3 (Kuya Jano, Te Mel at Te Jade) http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=276004502411331&set=a.199376053407510.50696.100000053506248&type=1&ref=notif&notif_t=like&theater

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Author: pchan_august

Juris Doctor (Law) Graduate. Iskolar ng Bayan. Activist. Environmentalist. Frustrated Singer, Poet and Writer. Computer Enthusiast. Servant of the Masses. God's Servant.

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