Sunday, April 25, 2010

Walden Bello, AKBAYAN and Noynoy Aquino

Walden Bello, AKBAYAN and Noynoy Aquino*
by Cleve Arguelles

Happy DSS Week!

As part of the celebration of the UP Manila’s Department of Social Sciences (DSS) week, the department invited AKBAYAN Partylist Representative and UP Professor Walden Bello. He delivered a lecture in behalf of the parylist and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC). His lecture was about food sovereignty or how can a nation prevent food crisis. He cited several causes of a food crisis. These includes land conversion for commercial or industrial use (IT Parks, Subdivisions, Malls and many others), land conversion for export mono-cropping and the exploitation of transnational and multi-national companies of our agricultural resources. And being a country that is capitalist agriculture, we plant crops and other things based on the demand of the global elite market (export demand) and not based on our domestic needs. This means that the landlords only allow farmers to plant crops based on what is more profitable in the global elite market than what is needed here. Many of our lands are converted to unsustainable mono-cropping. There is no consideration of what we need domestically thus, the food crisis and the import of crops and other agricultural products.

UP Professor and AKBAYAN Representative Walden Bello

I agree with Prof. Bello in this part. I share the same findings. The problem of the food crisis lies within the framework of our government and society. We based all our policies for foreign benefits. Our government officials allows these kind of policies that benefits the imperialist countries and the local elites (them and landlords and big companies). National policies does not include the needs and the demands of the poor, the basic mass, the peasants, the fishermen and other marginalized sector of the society. The supposed to be democratic society becomes a society for the elites and the domination of the elites. A capitalist society to be specific.

But Prof. Bello and AKBAYAN is contradicting itself when it comes to the policies they support in the Congress and this society’s problems that they’ve identified. They supported and even lobbied for the immediate passage of the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP or CARPER). This program exempts farm lands that will be converted to commercial complex (what happened in Hacienda Luisita), to poultry and livestock industry and many other things. This allows landowners to not redistribute their lands to the peasants.. It’s a loophole intentionally designed by the people in the Congress. To make it short, landowners will convert their farmlands to be able to maintain its ownership. In this situation, agricultural yields decreases. There’s a policy indirectly encouraging landlords to abandon farming and instead use their lands for other purposes. This decrease in agricultural yields will result into a food shortage that can lead into a food crisis. This food crisis will make us dependent on the importing of agricultural products. Thus, losing our food sovereignty.


Lands must be redistributed. We should go back to community-based farming where farmers consider the immediate needs of the community. This answers the problem of food crisis because domestic needs are being prioritized rather than the demands of the elite market. And only the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) allows genuine redistribution of land. This GARB answers the problem of the fake agrarian reform bill CARP or CARPER. AKBAYAN and Prof. Bello failed to recognize that it is the and the only key. But they continue to blind people that CARP or CARPER will actually answer our problems in land distribution and food security. It actually worsens the situation.

During the lecture, i asked him if there are any presidentiables that is prioritizing food security and sovereignty. If there can be one of these people running for presidency that includes a national policy that will prevent a food crisis and dependence on imports. He answered on the negative and recommended that we should bring this issue as a central problem of the Philippines in presidential debates and other key fora.

But AKBAYAN is supporting the candidacy of Noynoy Aquino, right?

AKBAYAN Representative Risa Hontiveros
with Liberal Party's Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas
and former Representative Etta Rosales

Noynoy Aquino is planning for a more open and more neo-liberalize economy. This means more foreign exploitation and domination of our resources. Once this happens, the agricultural market will disregard the domestic needs or demand. The country will be again producing for the market of the global elites. When this happens, food crisis is likely to happen. Prof. Bello and AKBAYAN again missed the point. Why would they support a Noynoy government if they don’t want food crises to happen? Contradicting.

Even though Prof. Bello and AKBAYAN recognizes the problems of this country, they failed to give the right solutions. Is this the change that their party list and their president is talking about? If it is, I don’t want any part of it.

*Made last February 1 2010. Url: