Posted by: Jae | October 17, 2007

Obscene Tokens

I think what is most appalling for me is not the fact that money had exchanged hands in order to ensure the filing of a defective impeachment complaint meant to immunize the President from a real impeachment complaint. It’s not even the separate allegations of Ka Bel and Among Ed that they were approached with envelopes of money. What is truly appalling is the way our good congressmen and local government officials and cabinet secretaries have dismissed the bribes as  “small cash gifts” or “rewards for the long nights during the budget hearings” or “assistance” — the emphasis being on the bribes being tokens. Tokens on which not much significance should be ascribed. “It was nothing extraordinary,” averred former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, “the discretionary funds of Malacanang are overflowing.”

Indeed, the rich are not like you and me.

I have been given the gift of working with farmers who amaze me every single time with their resilience and faith, but every single time as well, I am angered at the sheer poverty in which they are forced to live. In a certain landholding in Quezon, they are not even allowed to gather fallen coconut husks to sell as bunot for a few pesos.  After petitioning for agrarian reform coverage, even the smallest revenue generating activities like selling coconut by-products have been denied them. Unable to harvest copra as well, they live in abject poverty and hunger. On top of being stalked like common criminals by police officials conniving with the landowners.

In Agusan del Sur,  farmers were made to ratify an unconscionable addendum to a leaseback agreement that would grant the farmers the unholy lease rental of P635.00 per hectare PER YEAR for twenty five years, when the average lease rental should be around P5,000.00 thereabouts. They were led to believe that they were simply signing standard attendance sheets in exchange for styrofoam-boxed lunch and transportation reimbursement during one general assembly. (how do we know for sure? umm, the sheets actually contained the word “meals” and did not even contain the words “ratification” or “consent”. harharhar) That addendum effectively binds them and their children to two and a half more decades of painful and certain penury.  

Closer to Manila, PLDT employees on strike were violently dispersed after protesting the illegal termination of hundreds of rank and file employees, in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Four hundred fifty workers out of jobs, four hundred hungry households, about a thousand children who will not be sent to school for at least one school year.

In our organization, several employees — hardworking, dedicated individuals all — had to be retrenched because there simply was no more funds to pay for their salaries, which were to begin with, not very large. The discretionary funds probably overflow only for those who approve of the President and her policies, who kowtow blindly at her and absolve her of every single infraction and sin to the people. They certainly do not flow in the direction of party-list organizations who oppose administration policies and make no bones about it — but also, who fight tooth and nail to bring down the prices of medicines for every Filipino and who struggle to put back the “reform” in “agrarian reform” for the sake of our country’s farmers and farmworkers. On this I bet my bottom peso: not a single one among the Congressmen who received money for the Pulido complaint has worked as hard, as seriously and as steadfastly as Akbayan has  in the legislature.

Do what you want with  your 500,000. Spend it, save it, buy a car, build basketball courts, go to Disneyland. But don’t tell us it’s token. Spare us from the thought that there are millions and millions of pesos floating around, as tokens and “small favors” for the fortunate few to wantonly wallow in, while the rest of the country is subsisting on a medley of MSG-laced broth and day-old rice.


Responses

  1. //impeachment// – nakasanayan na nga nila ang ganyan. taon taon na lang kinakailangan nilang i-preempt ang impeachment ng presidente nila. para sa akin tacit admission na rin yun na kaimpeah-impeach talaga ang amo nila that they need to bastardize the process para lang walang matinong impeachment ang maihain.

    //leaseback// – ganyan din naman ang palaging ginagawa ng mga may-ari ng lupa, una iiwasan ang AR coverage, kapag di naiwasan ay papayag pero they would want it in such a way na sa papel lang naglipat ng ownership ng lupa pero di nababago ang control sa lupa – di nakapangalan sa kanila pero kanila pa rin ang gamit. Sinimulan kasi yan ng Presidenteng nagpasa ng RA 6657 sa Hacienda Luisita kaya naging ehemplo na rin sa iba hanggang sa ngayon.

    //500,000?// – pang gasolina daw yun hehehe…. signos ba ito na magmamahal ang gasolina? payag naman akong gumastos ng 500T bawat gubernador for gasoline… basta ba gamitin ibuhos ito sa nagsuhol sa kanila …. ako na bahala bumil ng 500,000 woth of matches

    napansin ko lang… dami na rin palang issues na kinikilusan ang Akbayan kahit 1 na lang ang natitirang Rep. sa Congress…. kaya mahal ko ang partidong ito eh😀

    MABUHAY ang AKBAYAN!!!!

  2. btw… yung sa agusan del sur… P635/ha a year ang leaseback? ano naman ang benepisyo nyan sa mga magsasaka? ano pa ba ang nabibili mo sa P1.73 na dagdag na kita ng magsasaka sa isang araw dahil sa agrarian reform? josko po… lip service to the max ito!!!

  3. on impeachment, grabe noh, kung iisipin mo, ang sound ng provision that allows only one impeachment complaint a year. it was supposed to free our public officials from constant attacks para they can focus on governance. pero, wala, binalahura din. ginawang escape valve. ginagawang bakuna ang mahinang impeachment complaint. sabagay, legal nga naman. yun sabi ng batas eh.

    at shemps, kung paano ginagawang joke ng mga lawmakers ang impeachment, ginagawa ding joke ng ibang landowners ang agrarian reform law through non-redistributive schemes like leaseback and stock distribution options.

    kaya para sa akin, rockstar pa din si marvic leonen, kasi tinuro nya sa akin to: etchos talaga yung idea ng batas na steady lang, na isang solid foundation na dedma sa lipunang kinapapalooban nya, kagaya ng paniwala ng madaming legal scholars. it can — and does — reinforce existing power arrangements. kaya mahalaga talaga ang lens na gagamitin.

    hehe, syempre mabuhay ang akbayan. ang partidong serious, transparent, democratic at higit sa lahat, super duper saya.😀

  4. what?? Php635 a year? di kaya sila malugi nun? grabe, unconscionable.

  5. wow bheng, first time mo magcomment. naks.

  6. tokenangina nilang kahat! mga paksheet…. (Hi bheng! may blog ka ba?)🙂

  7. hi bheng pwede ka bang makilala? awww😀

  8. hoy wag gawing dating service ang blog ko. mga leche kayo. hehehe.🙂

  9. hi arnold, hi josel🙂 di ko lang mapigilan na di magcomment (kahit na natiis kong di magcomment sa “a love story” debate/issue =P)

  10. tama namang “token,” jae eh. not the P500,000, but the P635/yr. grabe naman! nahiya pa sila ha, wag na lang sila magbayad, parang ganun din yon. hi bheng!

  11. 635p per hectare per year. unconscionable sobra. tapos nagiisip pa tayo kung bakit di gumaganda ang buhay ng mga magsasaka. wala na ngang lupa. wala pang kita. pati binhi na nararapat para sa lahat, inaangkin na din para ikayaman ng iilan (karamihan mga kumpanya) mula sa paghihirap ng maraming magsasaka na siya lang ang gagamit.

    minsan mapagiisip ka na din. kung sa isang leasehold agreement with a fellow filipino ay ganito kababa, locked pa for 25years… bakit nga naman di magdadalawang-isip ang mga magsasaka na mapasailalim sa mga agreements tulad ng sa rp-china na kahit malolock din for 25years ang kontrata (ayon sa agreement), eh kung di hamak na mas mataas naman.

  12. bheng – kahit kating kati ka, at kahit pinagisipan mong mabuti at malalim ang “love story” problematique, hindi ka pa din nagcomment. (shinare mo lang sa akin sagot mo in person, hehe). mabuti naman ngayon, nagcomment ka. mas malakas ang hatak ng magsasaka kesa kay aga. naks.

    rache – exactly. tama. next step: sabihin mo naman kay gordon file sya ng magandang carp extension bill. hehe.

    chrisgel – wow, ang lalim. “binhi na nararapat sa lahat”. go SEARICE!! iba talaga ang advocate ng right to seed. (tama ba? teka, bakit parang bastos pakinggan, hehe). on rp-china, delikado din yan. wala tayong kasiguraduhan, dahil sa textual ambiguities ng contract, na makakakuha ng maayos na deal ang mga magsasaka.

  13. hahaha oo right to seed! kelangan ko na i-exercise ang aking right to seed. hehehe anyway critical din ang issue ng seeds. aside from land, essential sa buhay ng magsasaka ang binhi para may itanim (maliban sa tubig, etc.)

    totoo nga madaming ambiguities din ang rp-china. ayaw ko din dun for a lot of reasons (pero workwise, i limit my objections on how it can affect rights of farmers to seeds as well as further erosion of plant genetic diversity sa pinas). pero i heard from one farmer from isabela, may mga nageexplore na dun na chinese businessmen daw willing to offer 10k/hectare of prime corn land (at tinatawaran pa nila ng mas mababa). ayaw din pumayag ng mga farmers. problema din kasi, napakahalaga ng agriculture sector at rural development pero funding and budget supposedly allotted for this goes to the wrong places and wrong priorities – technologies and resources that cripple farmers to further dependence (let’s just say dependency-rural-development agenda hahaha imbento!) rather than empowering them to become sustainable. syempre resilient din ang mga farmers. kung filipinos are well known to be very resilient, ang mga magsasaka pa natin. hehehe i can go on with farmers from laos and experiences in bhutan…

    seems to me, one good model on agricultural development is the experience in sweden. haven’t read much about this pero nung ineexplain sa akin, seems like they have it working (pero syempre with a lot of challenges thin brought by agricultural trade, subsidies, etc.)

    ang haba a.

  14. haha. parang paper. pero syempre, nag-aagree ako sa yo. (yun lang talaga nasabi noh.)


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