Monday, March 15, 2010

Land Issues in the Philippines

In a world that revolves around capital, the only opinions that matter come from the wealthy. Like it or not, having money means you can earn the rights to anything you want, including a person's morals.

Government is where the power is. To have any influence on what happens in your country you need to be a part of it. But what happens when the only people who can get their say in are the wealthy? This is what happens in most parts of the world and is what is contributing to a recent struggle in the Philipines. An article in the New York Times( addresses this issue noting that ten percent of the population is controlling ninty percent of the land. Small farmers are taken advantage of, being told their government is helping them, but whether that is true or not remains unclear. After the government "tried" to redistribute most of the privately owned land and public land for people to buy with government backed loans most ended up going back to the people who orignally owned them. In the article was a quote from professor of developmental studies, Roland G. Simbulan saying, "Because of the loopholes, landlords have been able to find all sorts of ways and means to recover their land." A lot of parts of the article described pressure that the President was getting from big landlords. The "pressure" obviously was not ignored and the President in fact folded under it giving in to the landloards requests. No matter what people know is right and strive to do, money can always be a powerful influence. What is inspiring is the will of the people to fight for their rights, even without promising success.

As we have discussed in class, a lot of corruption in government spawns from big companies and their amazing influence on people. In this article we are specifically learning about how this corruption leads to middle class farmers losing their land, a similar issue was addressed in the movie Food, Inc. where we learned about a big soy company using their money and power to stop smaller farmers from using any other bean besides theirs. In other class discussions we have touched on the topic of the wealthy being able to overpower our government, leaving no voice for the lower classes. This has had an enormous impact on food production and distribution.

If these problems we deal with did not spawn from the corruption of the government by the wealthy, then it wouldn't be such a difficult task to fix the problem. In a capitalist society, not much can influence people as much as dollars. I am not sure if this problem can be reversed, and although I believe there are some people in the world that don't have a price on their integrity, I am not sure if there are enough of these people to make an impact. I don't think it is hopeless to make a change, but I do think it will take a lot of time, a lot of work, and a lot of patience to turn things around.

Liz M.

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