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An Inherited Problem for the President – Hacienda Luisita

Hda Luisita is used to be owned by the Cojuangcos – of the Corazon C. Aquino circle of family. It’s been subject of land reform under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP.

Land reform was originally passed to eradicate feudalism in the country. It was aimed at emancipation of peasant-tenants from feudal bondage.  Peasants became land owners. Land reform today no longer limits to tenancy as they may also include any farmland, tenancy or not, over 5 hectares in area. The idea is to break up big farm units into small farm units, which is some politics’ idea of “democratization of wealth”.

Land Reform in Capitalist Farming

Hda Luisita is capitalist farming, corporate farming to be specific. And in capital farming, farmer actually refers to the owners of the means of production, in this case Hacienda Luisita Inc. [HLI] that owned and ran the land. And, yes, Sire/ma’am, small miserable farmers and super rich farmers are the same. They are all farmers. Welcome to the era called capitalism.

Farm-er [fa’armer] (plural farm-ers) noun

Somebody who farms: somebody who owns or operates a farm

1993-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved

Employees under the landowners or farmers are actually not farmers but farm workers, also known as wage earners. Hacienda Luisita is a case where farm workers would like to own the land to be the farmers. One big farmer to become many small farmers.

Anyway, Land Reform in capitalism is a matter between the state and landowner in one hand, and between the state and would-be-farmers in the other hand. State and the landowners agree on price and mode of payment. [In principle, would-be-recipients are represented in an adjudication board] State then distributes the land to recipients  under terms agreed upon by state and recipients or beneficiaries.

When landowner conceded or agreed to land reform, and when landowner accepted payment from the state, then, state became the new owner of that land until ownership has been passed on to recipients of land reform. Outgoing landowner has no business with the recipients of land reform.

At least in principles. Because, in the case of Hda Luisita that is not the case. The hacienda happens to have a sugar mill in an estate that is around 6,000 hectares [hectare X 2.471 = acre]. Hda Luisita has since been exhausting all legal remedies not to have the land simply distributed to interested farmers. They have fought for a say how it should be done, which is the “stock distribution option” or SDO for would-be-beneficiaries. By stock distribution, beneficiaries must incorporate their farm lots with the sugar mill. Interested beneficiaries in the other hand see it as THEIR option.

For HLI, giving up the land appears to be no problem. In fact many landed families made money better selling their lands to government than by anything else. Surely the Cojuangcos were not short changed in the deal. Big income is in sugar trading and not in sugar production, anyway.

Since the time of President Cory C. Aquino up to 1997, or in the first 10 years of CARP, 4, 619,000 hectares of land have been distributed under the program, 2.7% of them within compulsory acquisition [CA] and 97.2% of them within voluntary offer to sell [VOS]. VOS is land reform from landowners’ initiative. This is the period after the collapse of the sugar industry, and when the future of sugarcane farming has always been bleak until this day.

Hda Luisita is VOS but with “stock distribution option” attached to it. Why else would an estate owned or controlled by the family of a President ex President be subjected to land reform if not volunteered? So we see why giving away the land is not the problem. Preserving the sugar mill is another thing.

The existence of the sugar mill built on the land may be threatened. While sugarcane is top grosser, farmers will spend less for production and will net-profit better if they, and most likely, plant rice or corn instead. And a sugar mill without the farmers to supply the canes is sure-dead mill. Bye to lucrative sugar trading as well.

For the owners of Central Asucarera de Tarlac, simply giving up the land was therefore not as easy as would-be-farmers want it their way, or as easy as some implications of the law. Viewed from certain quarter, there are efforts by owners of Hda Luisita to defeat or circumvent the CARP for reason we have already outlined. Until Hda Luisita, CA or VOS did not have provision called SDO.

Personally, I think VOS should be scrapped and CARP modified rolled back, to affect only tenancy and idle private lands, which was what original land reform had been all about. But since there is the present CARP law, then, law ought to be law, we like it or not.

So, we have a case here of interested farmers going against the interest of those very influential in government. Interested farmers are dealing with the family of no less the President, Benigno Cojuangco Aquino III, son of one time President Cory C. Aquino. The conflict revolves around the SDO. In his mother’s time as president of the country, activists, militant farmers and farm workers, marching on their way to Malacañang Palace to demand the land under the agrarian reform law, ended up killed in what is now known as the Mendiola massacre.

And the heir of Pres Corazon C. Aquino, clear enough, is trying to avoid the same thing from happening in his time. While Noynoy apparently is not turning his back on the family’s “stock transfer” position, his administration, so far, has been quite liberal in its approach with those demanding for the land of Hda Luisita. A referendum regarding the SDO has been devised.

Another issue there seems to be who decides on who should qualify as beneficiaries. Right you are, at the end of the day, it is the owner of the land who decides. In cases involving land reform, only government that now owns those lands has the right to do that. Only DAR issues certificate of award, land or stock.

A CA usually started with  a petition by people’s organization  for some land to be acquired by government and then redistributed to the petitioners, under the land reform program.

VOS, in the other hand, stemmed from landowner’s will to sell land to government. VOS are not as simple as they sound. Ordinarily,  landowners  did not know their way around. They found their way to people who know the way. Those agents could be lawyers, or influential individuals or groups, who are knowledgeable in the maze of the bureaucracies i.e. Department of Agrarian Reform, Land Bank of the Philippines, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Lands, and more.  The fee was usually 20% of the total amount of the sale of land.

It is not usual way for DAR to take the burden of seeking or finding interested beneficiaries for VOS land. S.O.P. requires list of beneficiaries as one requirement for approval of VOS application. And VOS applicants and their agents should provide a tentative list of that or else  their application sleeps. That system has been formalized as voluntary land transfer, a term which is technically parallel operation land transfer [OLT] of the old land reform. Almost all VOS went that way.

Farm workers-turned-farmers as stockholders of Central Asucarera de Tarlac? Next thing to happen there will be a squabble between them and the original stockholders for control of the Corporation. Contest for control of a corporation is normal, natural, and universal of all corporations. But as we have seen just the mere thought of them is no longer acceptable to many of the would-be-farmers. First, they cannot agree with Luisita’s admin on many terms. Second, they seem do not or cannot trust the other side. The situation, which has already wasted a lot  of blood right in Luisita, hangs in there.

Lastly, HLI uses the “number of days worked by a farmer” as a basis for determining the number of stocks to be given to a farmer. Through this, HLI can unilaterally deny any farmer his entitlement to the stocks by the simple expediency of not giving him any working hours or days.

Land re-distribution in Tenancy land reform is easy. There are actual tenants with actual specific areas assigned them by landlords. State simply surveys them to draw parcels based on actuality.

How would you parcel out land to farm workers? They come and go. Some of them have been there for generations. Some of them are residents while some of them are seasonal migratory. Some of them have worked there for many years, while some of them just came yesterday. What about the women and the children who weeded in the fields? Sometimes, as in the case of bloody Hda. Luisita and bloody Hda Velez-Malaga in Negros, the farm workers cannot even agree among themselves. Who qualifies and how much should go to each can, indeed, be chaotic.

SDO by HLI?  That cannot be because HLI can only recommend to DAR, which has the authority to decide and to approve.

Actually, half the interested-farmers in Luisita have already accepted and tried SDO. They were not happy. What did they expect to earn in a hectare or a fraction of it from sugarcane production, really? Even five hectares in there is a waste of time under present circumstances. And that’s what I said selling land earns better! And we already saw 4 million hectares sold by their owners because they saw no good to them! There are better things than sugarcane farming.  First, there is the instability and volatility of  the  sugar market in the country  with a long  history quite pessimistic for the planters.  Second, is the nagging issue of slave wages that have always been blamed on the landlords, and to which  nothing seemed can be done about in the situation.

As for the land reform called CARP that is actually more of politics than sound economics? Well, it looks like the President can do nothing about it. Maybe Philippine Congress will do something for CARP or whatever people would like to name the program. And whatever that is, I don’t think the President will be comfortable with. Because, he is in a situation that damn if he does and damn if he does not.

The program had actually expired but was extended by congress to appease farmers and radicals. Or maybe that is only what we see. Fact is, CA is deemed terminated while extension applies to VOS. There were lots of VOS applications that are pending yet when the program matured. Department of Agrarian Reform [DAR] has received VOS applications more than it had handled.

Damn CARP! Or, maybe, we should say damn sugar trade in this country!

Give all the lands to the poor as they are what they want and as they are what politicians think is good. Then, give farmers a little better than rice and corn. Or, give them better reason than for them to leave their lands idle. The latter solves the problem of any sugar mill, the problem of Luisita included.

Give more incentives and protection to our producing sectors. The country which is blessed with land and climate suitable for agriculture should have been an agricultural power instead of having become dependent on world agriculture. Damn “Comprehensive Agrarian Reform” program. And damn sugar trading.

Related post here. Doing away with comprehensive agrarian  reform…

Updates: SC latest ruling regarding stock distribution option in HLI.

Land distribution ng Hacienda Luisita…

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The Craziest of All Ideas for Filipinos – Self Reliance

I think, for a change, state should redirect its focus at self reliance. Yes, like, state should have a direct hand at industrialization where there is much need if not a void.

Adolf Hitler, reconciling capitalism with socialism, employed it. President Ferdinand E. Marcos  also made a push at there.  No, it is not dictatorship I am selling. They are  the good sides in them viewed from national standpoint that I am saying. Aside from self reliance, industrialization by the state where there is none, also meant more employment.

The idea of national self reliance is old. Filipino leaders in the past must have had it in mind. Like, without many infrastructures needed everywhere, they had Philippine National Construction Corporation [PNCC] for that. Today, with the private sector proliferating in there, the thing has naturally become a Burloloy [white elephant]. Whatever functions to justify its continued existence can easily be assumed by later-day agencies like, say, National Economic Development Autority [NEDA] and the Department of Public Works and Highways [DPWH].

They had National Power Corporation [NAPOCOR] and the National Waters and Sewerage Administration [NAWASA], that the private sectors under them today would like to take over. Ill-administered, top heavy and became financial burdens, these state-owned corporations are more in the side of burloloys that may be dissolved except for their barest function – Regulatory.

[In the world of ideologues, privatization is a lease of life to capitalism]

But back to self reliance. Let’s talk about fuels. Putting aside pretensions, the world went to wars for that. Nations invaded for that.  Terrorism is rooted to that. The latest world economic crisis was caused by a domino that is rooted to that.  Maybe, we Filipinos can pursue our needs for fuels without any thought of going into any war.

President Marcos, recognizing the very peculiar vital rule of fuels, created Philippine National Oil Company [PNOC] and PETRON. Aside from being a move towards self-reliance and stability, Petron also contributed to the coffers. I think, privatization of Petron, later, was some stupid monkey business. Because, the reasons behind their creation, unlike others, are becoming aggravating instead of receding as time goes on.

Self reliance. Surely every Philippine President that came and went had dreamed about it. The idea looks simple when it is not. Under the present circumstances the idea is in fact crazy.

Let’s talk of our Bio-fuels Law passed just a while ago. It created a big demand for Ethanol to fill but where are all the ethanol plants and the ethanol because there are none. So we import something that could easily be produced locally while saving on foreign currency reserves as well.

Let’s fantasize that government is putting up ten ethanol plants for a start. Imagine 10 ethanol plants where there is nothing! That will be sisiw [small timer]. Kayang-kaya, wholly owned by the state, or in partnership with other states and or in partnership with the private sector.

Perennial problem of troublesome informal settlers living in streets and gutters?  Then, state can start relocating them to the sites where those industries are and where jobs and housing for them await there.  That makes  the practice of selling rights in relocation sites and coming back to the streets and gutters a thing of the past for them.

No, professional squatters does not mean professionals who live in squatter areas. The term applies to squatters who have already  been relocated for the ump time so that it seems squatting getting relocated has become their means of living.

But Ethanol plants need farmers. Without farmers to supply the raw materials, mills are  no better than scrap metals. Many of those small farmers today are in the streets and gutters than starving back home or living more miserably in farmlands! They have to be enticed back to the farms from the cities. Financial-agricultural assistance, mabigat but still kaya. Maybe the presently allocated billions [21 Billion  a year] of pesos ‘cash transfer’, alms, palliative that does not solve the problem of poverty, should be cut and diverted to long range solutions.

But, most of all, farmers need motivation – stable and good price for their produce. That’s to sustain them and the system of production. That will also make many people in streets and gutters to pack-up and start moving back to the provinces. Yes, going home by themselves as they have moved into the cities by themselves !

But, to make farmers happy, State needs to elbow the Compradores aside. Or, leaving the traders as they are, to pose stiffest competition for them. State will end up getting its hands on trading of fuels, or fuel components, if not strongly dictating over the whole agricultural and agro-setup.

Laws will be needed. Everything and everyone that contributed to the deep quagmire that the nation is presently in will be rocked!

So, you see, as we go deeper to the bottom of  the matter, it gets more and more complicated. The whole idea is what and why I call crazy. It’s like telling the majority of our lawmakers to tell themselves to go to hell, or to get lost! Present day Philippines is much a creation of the comprador class.

Ethanol, the big talk in the country in 2000, is something nobody is investing. Apparently the problem is about trade and not about production. A look at the situation of the sugar industry, and of the state of the country’s sugar mills, are enough to douse any enthusiasm for ethanol, I guess. Interested would-be-producers see no guarantee in trade. In short, private capital has sensed no money in there, or else they’re in there now.

Should not we just drift with everything and everyone to the edge?  Maybe there is a miracle somewhere to snag the Filipinos for the better.

Still, I strongly recommend Stronghold Crusader by Firefly Studios for everybody or everyone running the state. Maybe they’ll learn a little of something from the game. And don’t forget to select Castle Builder Build peacefully, with just the camels for company!  There are big cats in the way, lest you forget.

Related Posts  here

More Troubles for Mother Earth Ahead?

Non-ownership of land by non-nationals is indeed quite becoming obsolete. Filipinos can buy land, real estate or farm, in the U.S., in Australia, or anywhere half in the world today. But wait a minute. Let’s scrutinize them because we have indications of twists to them as proposed here in the Philippines.

We Filipinos cannot buy forestland in Australia, or in the U.S, or anywhere else, or people there must be insane. An Asian or an African Pedru buying private land owned by an American Pedru, or the other way around, that’s how it is but not land owned by everybody – or public domain.

Correct me if I’m mistaken, I might not be updated, but last time I knew, before any portion of public land can be utilized, especially by the private sector for agriculture it has to be declared Alienable and disposable by Congress.

Concession in that regard, also granted by congress, as in Forestry [logging] concession, has already existed. Concession, same as lease, is not ownership. They are not covered by land retention limit and land reform.  Concession is economic exploitation of public land allowed for a specific period of time. The old form of exploitation of public land, more particularly forestland, is farther advanced or furtherance by the Billion Trees Act authored by Congressman Genaro Alvarez Jr and Congressman  Jose de Venecia II of the lower house of Congress.

As we have seen, this bill went through smooth passage in congress with some radical left supporting it actually. Squatters, soldiers and policemen, church people, everybody may now exploit our forest lands. That’s how the authors explained it. But that one day Filipinos will wake up to find one giant private entity operating thousands or even millions of hectares of forestland for agriculture, well, that’s reality made possible by this Billion trees Act.

Congress, in passing the Billion Trees Act of 2007, is passing direct control of Public lands to the Executive Branch of government —  to Malacanang Palace through its arm the Department of Energy and Natural Resources [DENR]. Whoever is interested in Philippine public land should go to them instead of Congress, that’s what the law says now.

Let’s go straight to the heart of the matter – Biofuels as one solution to save mother Earth. I believe we have a very, very legitimate issue there. Biofuels is a renewable source of energy, one solution to fossil fuels crisis. It will also bring about a cleaner environment. Now comes Jatropha Curcas for bio-diesel. Jatropha is projected at 5 metric tons of harvest, per hectare-per year at best. As we can see, same with Cassava, Jatropha cannot compete with crops like rice, corn and sugarcane in term of income for farmers. In short, people are not throwing away what they have at present just for Jatropha Curcas. Moreover, for investor to buy or to lease land just for Jatropha or Cassava is not economically feasible. Promoters of Jatropha have their eyes focused at they see are cheaper – public lands. They cannot do it in their own backyard. They cannot do it in advanced and developed countries; perhaps they can do it in third world countries.  With the Billion trees Act investors need not buy land. Vast territories can now be possibly exploited  for agriculture, for 50 years, for almost a token.

[Jatropha is good only where no other agriculture is economically socially feasible as in arid regions.]

Why cannot [Philippine] State do it for itself thus for its people, IF it must do it? The answer is obvious. Bureaucrat won’t make money for his /her personal keep, or make money that maybe he/she can stash secretly in an account somewhere else. That would be easy money acting like Real-estate broker for moneyed people incidentally, or most likely, foreigners… or, perhaps, be in secret partnership with them laway lang ang puhunan.  This one does not leave money trail, just some big questions where had one got money to buy so much shares of stock!  Are not they familiar old stories for Filipinos? [If you’ve been to rallies of activists and you don’t get what they mean by phrases like down with Bureaucrat capitalism, well, now you know the meaning of one. Simply stated it means one is in government to become rich by using government position to push for personal or selfish interests. But they are all about politics and economics.

Let’s talk about environment. War against Global warming and dirty air…is not that becoming just a horse for some greed here? I can’t see trees and Reforestation in Jatropha Curcas and Cassava. Maybe its me my eyes are twisted or crossed.

Related Articles

Chacha proponents: clinging to obsolete ideology

Environmentalists slam Arroyos sellout of lands to foreigners

Where is the Ethanol

The country now has a very big ethanol demand to fill but where is the ethanol?

That’s the best question so far asked of the matter. Yeah, where, because there are none. The Filipino people have expected ethanol industries to mushroom all over the country the way they do in other parts of the world. In fact, I’ve been pondering over the same things since 2003 when I helped to organize the Bayawan Valley Farmers’ Organization in anticipation.

I remember I was doing fine as a construction worker way back in 02 until I saw Kompareng Joel G. Miranda about this thing called ethanol. No, he is not the same Mayor Joel G. Miranda of Santiago. My compadre‘s middle initial G stands for Granada, I’m not sure about the other.  Sometimes I wished the meeting never took place. I’ve been bugged by this ethanol thing!

Well, for those who do not know, Joel is that crazy old guy with crazy mercenary mentality who many people I’m sure never heard about. Imagine him as one bully in Diwalwal mountains where he made money managing one small-scale gold mining operation while the company he worked for went bankrupt in the end. Imagine him as been involved in dagdag bawas in some elections there in Mindanao. Imagine him among the Teroray tribe, has or should I say had one of them for his wife, fancying himself as the  petty warlord Toothpick reborn. And then there was the time he thought he could bully his way in Gensan’s fish port. Lucky he made it back to Manila in one piece! That’s when he talked me about this  Ethanol thing. You see, I like my Compadre very much but not always the many things that he brokered.

He was scouting for at least 10,000 hectares that could be cultivated to sugarcane – for absolute partnership with one interested foreign investment group. Ten thousand hectares to be converted to shares of stocks! The idea was for one corporation to own the plant and facilities, likewise the farm that would guarantee supply of raw material to its own plant. This one proposed scheme is good.  In fact, I like the idea. I think it is advanced. Like, imagine a sugar mill eating up all the lands around it. Or, like one agri-corporation eating up the mill! But there are just many dead ends to it. The scheme is next to impossible if not insane under the present situation.

Nearest thing to that are Dole and Del Monte Philippines but they operate mostly on leased lands. Or Hacienda Luisita Sugar mill in Tarlac that owns 6, ooo hectares. But they all developed over a considerable period of time and not overnight.

Presently, the nearest real thing there is for foreign investors is to find local partners for that plant. This is to conform to existing Philippine laws. Next would be to put up the plant, which is not simple matter since locating them can be complicated by politics, or something that needed connections in high places. And when it is located, then that would be it – compete it on with other sugarcane millers.

The ups and downs of Dacongcogon mill is one interesting case. DPCMA was set-up in a territory that was green, or generally subsistence farming  in southern Negros island. DPCMA was a cooperative mostly of  small landowners and farmers organized by the late Bishop Monsignor Antonio Fortich in partnership with the Gaston business group in 1969.  Financing  was then no problem. Land titles used to be clean. The Cooperative facilitated farmers with Philippine National Bank [PNB] and Development Bank of the Philippines [DBP]. The list of co-op members [my late old man was one of them] was long that in fact, just a quarter of them were possible to maintain milling operations. But the mill had collapsed several times due to member-farmers’ run. Monsignor Fortich must have passed away a very disheartened old man at what administrators had done to his brainchild. 😦 [My baptismal certificate said it was him who poured holy water on me when I was cute and he was young parish priest of Binalbagan.]

Free Competition among Millers  and Farmers

Cost of transport or proximity of farm to the sugarcane mills is one big consideration by farmers. Another major factor is Farmer-Miller sharing that varies from 65-35 to 70-30, and which can offset cost of transport. And then there’s the factor that always was the cause of farmers’ run – the efficiency of the mills – also viewed as millers’ trustworthiness. And such runs result to poor business if not collapse of mills in the end.

A farmer in Dacongcogon area, for example, either intentionally or by necessity, also milled with SONEDCO or sometimes went as far as BISCOM. Purity Sugar per Tonne Canes [PSTC] of 1.2 by one miller, 1.5 by another, and 1.6 in yet by another miller, all from the same farm-batch, spoke loud for the mills. And when analysis by millers [especially PSTC and molasses] has become questionable, the report from the Scale becomes questionable, too.

So, will putting up sugarcane mills encourage landowners and farmers to cultivate sugarcane?  Yes, It will have the effect, or it will help encourage farmers. Sugarcane farming has always been the dream of every farmer in Negros Island. It’s a dream, an obsession actually, of every poor farmer to become a small planter or a big Haciendero someday. But sugarcane farming costs and there is no available financing program that supports it. Crop loan applies only to farmers who already have standing crop and with track record. Land titles for loan collateral to start everything with, are out of the question. In land reform, beneficiaries hold only certificates that are not valid instrument for loan. Clean titles free of encumbrances are rare if not extinct ever since the collapse of sugar in the 80s. In fact, strictly speaking, many landowners no longer own their lands.  What now as there seems to be one dead-end here.

And then there is the problem of roads. We have large agricultural areas suitable for sugarcane agriculture. Sugarcane is suited to rolling terrains, which explains why 19th and early 20th century economic advances in Negros Island [Maao, La Carlota, La Castellana, Isabela, Payao, Himamaylan, Kabankalan] and the trails of the mestizo blood, were not in marshy or wetter plains until they were well-drained.

The absence  of feeder or farm roads, or lack of them, is one of the reasons why the hinterlands have remained undeveloped or underdeveloped for cash crops. Many areas do not even have farm-to-market roads, much more good and stable ones. One planter I know in Bayawan Valley has lost P300, 000.00 worth of canes unmilled last [2007-08] season. Those over-aged canes are Katis or trash that are not worth transporting  to the mill this season. It was stupid to have operated without dependable and stable farm roads in the first place. [And this stupid speculator happened to be my brother. Weather did not cooperate according to his expectations!]

And finally there is the lack of hard motivation for producer farmers, which is something beyond them – stable and good price for their produce. Trading sector has that in their hands. Millers, by definition, are part of the Producing sector. All millers, and some big planters I know, are engaged in commercial trading too, so they are little affected.  Obviously they earn little as producers and benefit much as traders.

Meanwhile, in places like Lucotan, Pingot, and yes, Bayawan Valley, it’s more of speculation than real agriculture in there on the part of the agricultural sector. It’s more of wait-and-see situation that I should say is generally sleepy-life-as-usual. There simply are people who have no place to go and nothing else to do but to farm. If you call that serious farming. And that is reflected. Who in his right mind will think of putting up a mill where they see no room for two, existing ones lack bounty of raw material, are on the red, actually. Checkmate. There’s no life in farming and mills are not coming because there are no farmers.

How will we know that farmers are finally motivated? Well, I guess, more people will be going up there to cultivate. Price of land will jump up, which right now is still considerably cheap. Arriendo system as well as VOS will be down. And, there will always be moneyed people around because people always find ways when they are obsessed and sure about it. There won’t be much idle lands that people can see. Right now, even loan sharks are not optimistic about lending money in there. And about farm roads, gangs of farmers will build them with bare hands, hoes, plows, anything, as they have always done when they saw the need. Simple farmers, like their fathers before them, have ceased to  complain bother about roads.  Road equipment just come without being asked. And like the big signs that come with them, everything means  that it is election time once again.  Then the rains come. And, all repairs are gone until next election.  Don’t worry, there will be the gangs of farmers with bare hands, hoes, plows, anything.   But, surely someday,  maybe everybody can do better than all that!

Meantime, where is the Ethanol?

Related post:

Must Self-destruct be Stopped or Pushed

Must Self-Destruct be Stopped, or Pushed

Myth 1: That progress depends on foreign investors coming in.

Foreign investments coming in would help. They add. But, that the country will progress only if we bring in foreign investors, to the point like it is the end of the world for Filipinos if we cannot, is in fact twisted, corrupt and bankrupt ideology. It is a myth. The Americans, the Japanese, the Europeans and the Chinese to mention some, gained progress through self-reliance. Fact is, nations whose leaders [and peoples] are not ideology bankrupt are those that have advanced. Fact is, the Philippines standing next to advanced Japan at the start of the 20th century is now the number one most backward country in the Far East.

Enticing or luring foreign investors into the Philippines, has not worked. 10 million OFWs and ever increasing number of Filipinos seeking economic opportunity abroad attest to that. We have yet to see a reversal of that trend.

And, why advanced nations opened up their economy to foreign investment is because they need to EXPORT their capital and they want everybody to do the “same”, open up – globalization, leveling of the playing fields. They did not advance because of foreign investments, which in their experience is late-day development.

Myth 2: That wage increase is killing industries and it keeps away foreign investors.

Fact is, today, the Philippines pays cheapest compared to its neighbors. Philippine labor costs about I/10th compared to those of their counterparts in advanced and most industrialized nations. The country is not as attractive  for foreign investment as its immediate neighbors like Malaysia, Vietnam and China. There is negative cycle of high degree of poverty and high unemployment. [Industry and consumerism are Siamese twins. To kill one is to kill both. To stunt one is to stunt both.]  As proven by Philippine experience, cheap labor is not everything to foreign investors. There are other factors being considered like social-political stability of the host country, and likewise the types of industries  and their market. Peoples Republic of China [PRC] for one, has cut the Philippines when it came to that.

The State has been pursuing those myths for a very long time already.

I came from Negros, the home of the Sacadas. And anybody there will tell you that a place full of Sacada is a dead place for business and industry except  for the Hacienderos. The whole Philippines has  over time become a Sacada country of some sort.

Developing Our Prime, Best Resource

I remember in the end of the Marcos era, Filipinos talked about developing our best asset – agriculture, while blaming the more “ambitious” industrialization thrust of the past. Those talks were easily forgotten.

Much has to be done to bring Philippine agriculture into shape today. In the sugar industry, for example, the need is not as simple as putting up new mills. We need comprehensive stimulus, incentive, motivation, for landowners when the nearest thing in their mind has been to put up their lands for Voluntary Offer to Sell [Land reform], while would-be beneficiaries talk like getting a share of one or two hectares of land will end their misery and the start of this nation becoming great again. As predictable as sunrise and sunset, and as clear as seen in reality experienced, there won’t be enough by these beneficiaries for their table and they won’t be able to repay government thus the program has become a dole-out that does not solve the problem of poverty.

Presently, we have room for additional 30 and more sugar-ethanol mills in the Visayas. This would be hitting [more than] two birds in one shot. The figure is nothing, actually, because 10 thousand [fully productive] hectares is more than one regular mill can accommodate. And, we are talking here of hundreds of thousands of hectares of upland agricultural lands; half of them are underdeveloped and idle. We are not talking yet about committing any of our millions of hectares of denuded public lands, which is what proponents of Cassava and Jatropha Curcas have in mind – wholesale use of those lands for almost no cost to them, to utilize destitute squatters  in public lands who literally scratch for a living, many of whom will work for food. Jatropha and cassava involving private lands is fine.  But same programs to involve vast track of forest reserves I think is a big mistake for the world.

As we know, from farmers’ standpoint, Cassava and Jatropha Curcas cannot compete with say coconut, corn and sugarcane in terms of cost-income. It means that cassava and Jatropha programs, which are getting more attention from government, practically do not consider the Philippine farming sector.  And the way domestic political-economy runs in the country, it appears that the country, blessed with climate  very suitable for agriculture,  is decades away from self sufficiency in its bio-fuels need as mandated by its bio-fuels law – or perhaps never will be like in its needs for foods such as rice, corn and wheat that are traditional imports.

There is always an insatiable need for fuels. And that’s guaranteed by the global situation. Furthermore, there won’t be any real competition in there coming from the world. And, Philippine government is capable of putting up all those industries needed. State can privatize them later if that’s what people want. Yes, as you will note the idea is towards Socialism or industrialization by the State, if you hate socialism.  State can always pursue programs in partnership with private, domestic and or foreign capital. Meanwhile people need jobs. And jobs mean more consumers. And more consumers mean more industries and jobs.

Whatever way, the nation needs to survive. At, nangu-ngutang na rin lang tayo, bakit hindi natin gastosin sa mga direct-productive kaysa magtapon sa mga palliatives and superficial development? Talking about economic stimulus, especially in times like now, a gain in one place is a loss in another place, spending on one thing may be cutting on another thing, so there’s nothing real. But where or on what money is spent indeed makes difference. There can be long term, real economic stimulus.

The country’s bio-energy program has been beset with bugs since the start. The program, much more should it be nationalized, has conflicts with the present political-economic powers in the Philippines. Counting on foreign investors for the development of the program has its dead ends, too, thus the idea for the State itself to initiate the industries. Like, kontra ito sa nagmamay-ari ng mga existing sugar mills gayon din sa komokontrol ng negosyo sa industriya, o dili kaya, walang kikitain para sa mga namumuhunan ng laway lang – ang mga umaasa sa pangungurakot, etc. Meaning, the whole idea of a progressive nation is in fact a dream for Filipinos until they have freed themselves of the clutch of bankrupt ideologies . The Filipinos are in a quagmire that has built-up over many decades.

The Filipino nation must advance – the long or the short way, the easy or the hard way, and sooner or later. And in this confused side of the world, down can be up, wrong can be right, exit could be entrance. Yeah, like  what the Dragon warrior in some virtual Realms kept saying, “Left is Right… Right is wrong.” So take your choice, folks. One cannot possibly be wrong. That’s right, or maybe you have not been to a meeting of Bayawak. And what’s that? In Hiligaynon it means about a bunch of people everyone talking none of them listening. [From bayawak a creature believed to be deaf.]

So, what is definite about Must Self-destruct be Stopped or Pushed? Well, I’d say if people are hell-bent on their ways, give ‘em the final shoves when they have stood at the edge of their world, folks! Oh, OK, just seat back, relax, and watch them as they fall since you and me can do nothing about it  😦

Add to your vocabulary, folks.  Sacadas migrant agricultural workers. Connotes [discriminatory]: unruly [as teachers would say of their noisy class], useless people; looking too much but buying nothing [as regarded by shopkeepers];  work animals [by the aristocracy].

Related posts

[] the Sugarcane farmers and the Farm workers of Negros

Philippine Agriculture and the Law of Supply and Demand

Philippine Agriculture and the Law of Supply and Demand

Prices and Inflation

Prices, what are they? Let’s take commodities. Fish and rice have no monetary value in them. They are things in this world gathered or grown by man. It’s the same with ore, metal, machines manufactured from them, or a tree, lumber and a boat, not to forget mention of crude oil. So, why is rice P35.00 to P52.00 per kilogram, while fish is P80.00 to P200.00 per kilogram?

That’s right. A fish swimming in the ocean does not cost a cent! It was man who needed them that put value in them. They are what he thinks is due him to produce them; what those commodities mean to him. The value placed on commodity is HIM, and subsequently between him and another who is interested in the commodity – the consumer, who agrees with him.  For example, a farmer thinks his sack of rice is worth P500.00. But it is worthless and rotten rice if nobody agrees with him. 

Simple fisherman and simple farmer have come a long way. Each has become an organized, complex world by himself. Fisherman then is now both fishing boat owner and his employees (workers), while farmer is now landowner and his workers. The value on commodity is now THEM, or the sum of all those people to include fisherman or farmer.

Farmer needed fish. Fisherman needed rice. They exchanged or traded.

Between fisherman and farmer, or between them and their consumers, had developed the trader who has also progressed into another organized world himself. He made it convenient for producers and consumers, adding his own value to the values already placed on the commodities – a gain or profit for his own personal keep. The end value is now the sum of all the three of  them – farmer, fisherman and trader [plus value added tax by the State].

That trader has become too powerful playing both ends, and how State treats and handles the matter, are political issues that I guess are different subject matter.

Inflation, what are they? They could not be product of disagreement-agreement among the fishes in the ocean. They are product of personal interests and conflicts, product of endless contest for gain between social forces. There is a race for gain between social forces, something that runs in seemingly endless spiral.

Let’s start with what is there at present without going through the hen-or-egg thing. Let’s take the fisherman and the farmer for example. For all reasons, like inflation, they need to push high. Normally, trader, buying low selling high, absorbs his loss but eventually passed it on by also selling high to recover. By selling high, trader in effect feeds inflation perpetuating the cycle. Inflation is one normal, natural occurrence in capitalism.

[While some States have managed well their social conflicts while others cannot, well, I guess  is a separate matter.]

By the way, American Chambers of Commerce is presently in town to look into allegation of smuggling of used luxury vehicles in the Cagayan Freeport. Everyone wants a car and everyone dreams of owning a luxury vehicle. But this is harder time for Filipinos so I guess more and more of them have gone for used car mostly from Japan and Korea, which may be bad news for American car manufacturers and commerce [and their sectors].  There is demand so there follows supply.

But where’s Philippine agriculture and the law of supply and demand in there? Yeah, before I forget. Well, we have been in effect telling our farmers that they are not worth their sugar; that the world has a glut of them. So, why would they be producing more? For example, Bayawan City territory is 65 thousand hectares, a room wide enough for three (3) sugar/ethanol mills; Mabinay town can have one (1) – all them where there is none. People are not in there, for one reason, simply because there is no money for them there.

Presently we have one Ethanol plant standing in Calatrava-San Carlos area in Negros Island. Another has been planned for Binalbagan–Isabela area. There must be others, hoping for some favorable time in the future.  As traditional Filipino politics has put it, weather-weather lang or life is just a seesaw(?)

Development and progress as we are getting them are bullshit rhetoric. In the country they are by-product of economics which is very dependent on partisan politics, or political squabbles that is very unique Filipino.  A progressive economy to be brought about by a Biofuels revolution is, in fact, just a dream for Filipinos at this point in time.

If nobody is coming to invest, why should not State, through PNOC for example, invest in there by itself? The State can put up plants and operate them non-profit to put some gains into the pockets of farmers and consumers, prime motivating our sleepy agricultural sector. But then again, this is wishful thinking at this point.

The State is just a horse and will always be a horse. The problem is we don’t have a cart in this part of the world where everybody can have a ride. So, fisherman, farmer, trader, consumers (to include all other sectors) – which of them do you think seats on horseback enjoying the ride, folks?

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