On the Exploitation of the Weak
By Apolinario Villalobos
Natural resources are gifts and blessings from the Creator of the universe and as such should be properly and justly exploited as a show of respect to the Giver. However, the problem in this world is that, practically, the strong overruns the weak in their greedy effort to control anything that got to do with survival. Looking back, history is a mute witness to this desire of powerful nations such as Portugal, Spain, Holland, England, and later, America, Russia, Germany, China, and Japan. Earlier in the history of nations, Portugal and Spain, practically divided the world into two hemispheres for appropriation between the two of them. Later, war was used as an instrument for the appropriation of the weak nations among the strong ones.
Much later, with the blazed marine trails that lead to practically all continents, strong nations overran all of them, with America and her “Manifest Destiny” ideals, leading the pack. Her obsessive drive was masked with a supposedly noble intention to save the “barbarian” and “pagan” inhabitants of forcefully occupied lands from their misery of ignorance, although, beneath it, was the desire to bleed the lands of their natural resources, and the Philippines was among those that suffered this harrowing fate. It should be noted that long before the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, the early inhabitants had a healthy commercial intercourse with other nations, aside from having their own spiritual leaning which was Mohammedan or Islamic. The Americans did not “convert” the Filipinos into Christianity, as when they came, the Spanish colonizers already did it….all they did was turn the face of the Catholic inhabitants towards Protestantism.
If our forefathers fought for the preservation of our nation’s patrimonial rights, today, the Philippine government practically offers it to the highest bidders- whoever they are, if foreigner, the better because of their dollar. The Philippine Constitution meanwhile haplessly and practically turned into a doormat, as provisions after provisions are changed to fit the desires of foreign investors. The apex of irresponsibility was the passing of a law authored by Gloria Arroyo when she was yet a senator, allowing foreigners to own the 100% rights over claimed land intended for mining…this is the root cause of the scandalous mining incidents in the country that to date, have even claimed lives.
The Philippine Mining Law passed in 1995 is a glaring example of how lawmakers can be so naïve to the far-reaching effects of nature-related ventures in the country. They do not seem to understand what displacement, pollution, cultural debacle, immorality, and corruption mean. All that they perceive are the dollar and peso, as well as, the glitter of gold…gains that find their way to the pocket of the corrupt government officials instead of the inhabitants of the affected lands. From a national point of view, practically, no significant benefit has ever been “felt”, “observed”, or “enjoyed”, by the citizens, in case the gains have reached the national coffer. Tangible projects on which these gains are spent, are hideously pockmarked with commissions at different levels of transaction….so, what benefit are the greedy talking about?
Soil erosion and flood are the effect of the careless exploitation of natural resources while on the part of the inhabitants, forced displacements that lead to their migration to slums of urban areas where they eventually succumb to the pummeling of poverty, are the dismal disheartening results, made more grievous by the wearing down of their cultural values. Many girls and boys turn to prostitution to help eke out a living for their starving families. Families live on sidewalks and “mobile homes” – the pushcart which is the most practical way to carry around collected junks from garbage dumps. Fathers who turned “barkers” in jeepney terminals are lured into easy money by big time drug pushers, dangled temptation that they bit, for which they paid with their life.
Catholic bishops and human rights advocates kuno wonder how and why the above-mentioned Filipinos became bad, to the extent of being killed due to their involvement in drug trafficking. These hypocrites are obviously short-sighted because what they see are just the slums where the unfortunate victims live. They fail or refuse to look beyond the slums, so that they will be able to perceive where they came from….and, what made them endure the hellish life in the city!