Monday, December 1, 2014

An Inquiry from a facebook friend



A facebook friend posted on my wall an inquiry related to an article criticizing Hacienda Luisita, the Cojuangcos, and capitalism. The writer appeals to the Bible as his basis, particularly the story of Naboth's vineyard and a passage from James. And after presenting his argument with a mixture of his own style of biblical interpretation, a piece of Philippine history, and a superficial knowledge of economics, he made this conclusion: 
As I said earlier that capitalism has already defined, institutionalized and operationalized on how to kill, steal and destroy people's lives not only of Filipinos but world-wide and what we want to see is how the believers will also provide alternative by defining, institutionalizing and operationalizing the statement of Jesus that He came to give life full of abundance here on earth (Jn 10:10).
Here is the whole piece: 

FROM IDEA TO REALITY
Transforming and translating love and cooperation into institutional policies and social system.
WHAT laws and policies to be legislated that will concretize love and cooperation?
WHAT actions and practices to be done that will demonstrate love and cooperation?
Theologians, philosophers and intellectuals have been giving us bulky of ideas but what we are looking for is the operationalization and realization of those ideas- the transformation from idea (spirit) into reality (matter).
Jesus said that the devil came to kill, steal and destroy people's lives (Jn 10:10). Was Jesus speaking of a literal devil, going around and doing all these mass destruction against humanity?
To take away our mystical belief of a devil that is responsible in stealing and destroying people's life, we will provide some concrete examples that will reveal the real devil in the system. Let us use the Biblical account as our example:
Naboth's Vineyard
Omri came to power 125 years after David's accession, and his line came to an end just 50 years later with the execution of his daughter, Athaliah, who was queen in Jerusalem. But the "LAWS" which Omri introduced and which his son Ahab and daughter-in-law Jezebel enforced continued to contradict with the law of the Lord until finally the law of the Lord was almost forgotten and Israel was wiped out as a nation. Micah, the eighth century prophet, speaking shortly before the fall of Samaria, when the Southern Kingdom, Judah, was also deeply dyed with the land lust of the Phoenicians, said, (Mic. 6.16) "For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation..." This is elaborated in 2.2; "They covet fields and take them by violence: and houses and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage." This describes Ahab. The episode of Naboth's Vineyard is the central fact given for Ahab's reign, and the specific reason given by the prophet (I Kg 21.19) for the destruction of the entire dynasty of Omri. It involves Ahab's greed for land and Jezebel's application of Phoenician (Baalistic) law to Israel. Ahab wanted to buy or exchange Naboth's vineyard, but Naboth pointed out that, under the law of the Lord he was forbidden to alienate the heritage of his clan. Ahab, still an Israelite at heart and half a believer in the Lord, hesitated to act. Under the Phoenician system, however, this was a ridiculous position and, moreover, Naboth's refusal to accede to the King's reasonable request (under the Baal system) was lése majesté. Jezebel said to Ahab: "Aren't you the king of Israel? I will get it for you myself," and proceeded to have Naboth condemned in a public trial for blasphemy against God and the king. Certainly, it was blasphemy against Baal to assert rights or duties given by the Lord (Yahweh), and it was blasphemy against the king to assert that he was not free to enforce the Phoenician system which treats land as a commodity and not as a heritage.
Navoth's vineyard and hacienda Luisita
Hacienda Luisita: A land that is rightfully to the Filipino farmers
"Landlords’ right has its origin in robbery. The landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed, and demand a rent even for the natural produce of the earth" (Adam Smith, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 44.)
This is Hacienda Luisita’s history
Before we were colonized by Spain, lands in our country were owned by the Filipno people and in fact, there was no law that gave right to anyone to privately own the land. There was also no law that allow the selling of land. The land was communally owned by all Filipinos but when the colonizer came, they took the land by force and put it under their own control and name. One concrete example is the Hacienda Luisita. Tabacalera Spanish company wanted to sell the Azucarera in Tarlac due to Hukbalahap rebellion. One of the motivating reasons why there was rebellion is the issue of landgrabbing. The 200 revolts launched by Filiponos during Spaniah occupation were all connected to the issue of land. The powerful Lopez family wanted to buy it but Ramon Magsaysay offered the sale of Azucarera to Cory’s father alone. The Philippine government agreed to loan Aquino-Cojuangco the dollars to purchase Azucarera, but with 2 important conditions. Here is the first condition; along with the Azucarera sugar mill, Cojuangco’s must also purchase the surrounding farmlands known as Hacienda Luisita. The second condition is after 10 years, the 6,400 Hacienda Luisita must be distributed to its small farmers. Hacienda Luisita is just one of the Cojuangco’s wealth.
In 1968, ten years after purchasing Hacienda Luisita, no land was made available to any tenant, farmer or sugar planter. Hacienda Luisita workers formed a union asking for land distribution and still no land was distributed. In 1980, after eleven years of follow-ups by the Marcos government, still no land was distributed. The Marcos government filed case versus Aquino-Cojuangcos but Cory junked the case when she became the president.
In January 1987, the Mendiola Massacre happened. Cory’s government forces opened fire. 13 farmers were dead and there were 39 gunfire injuries. Another was in February 1987 in Lupao. Cory’s government forces killed 17 farmers. What happened to Hacienda Luisita during Cory’s term? Cory’s new land reform exempted Hacienda Luisita from being distributed. The Cojuangcos have often garnered criticism for their ownership of the estate. It was oligarchy at its finest.
Why must Hacienda Luisita be distributed to its small farmers? In the first place, it is stated in the treaty that the Aquino-Cojuangco must give it up. Second, they deserve a piece of the land they have been working for a long time already. Some of the farmers and their families were born, raised and died on the same land. Almost every family member of each farmer also works for Hacienda Luisita. Third, many farmers had already sacrificed their lives fighting for a land strained against them. They are not asking for every edge of the land but just a piece of it just so they can have at least their own property they can rely on without being scared of what future may bring. They deserve it. On the small farmer’s point of view, Hacienda Luisita is not just a land, thus a way and source of life.
But what is the downside of distributing Hacienda Luisita?
First, it would be unfair for the Aquino-Cojuangcos because the land is legally theirs through the power of papers. They bought it for every centavo worth of the land.
Second, it is also unfair that Supreme Court withdraw the capacity of the Aquino-Cojuangcos to resist Hacienda Luisita on being taken away from them. Their right to property is neglected.
Now what is the downside of distributing it to the farmers?
First, they could sold it right away after receiving it, thus, wasting the main reason itself of gaining the land.
Second, they could just stop working because of the fact that they already own that piece of land.
All in all, it is still in favor to the farmers. With all that, I believe the farmers rightfully deserve Hacienda Luisita. It is with the sad truth that some of the farmers have already sacrificed to fight for the land they had worked in for so long. The fact that there was an agreement that Hacienda Luisita must be distributed 10 years after its purchase is an enough reason. Adding to that, farmers have worked for so long, they have earned the Aquino-Coujuangco millions of money and yet not even a piece of land was given is really unfair. Finally, justice will be given to those who deserve it. Another good news, the President called on the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to make sure that the law requiring just compensation for land owners be obeyed. The hectares of land each of the farmers will get and how much the Cojuangcos will be paid are not yet known today but it will be surely compensated properly.
The shipment of gold commandeered by Gen. Juan Luna and the wealth of family Cojuanco
There was an earlier account recounted by historian Carlos Quirino in an unpublished book commissioned by Danding Cojuangco, about a shipment of gold vessels commandeered by General Antonio Luna from churches in Pampanga, collected for him by Tiburcio Hilario, Pampanga governor, brought to Paniqui and entrusted to Ysidra Cojuanco for safekeeping before Luna left for Cabanatuan to meet Aguinaldo, only to be assassinated there.
The gold was brought by Luna from both the Ilocos (through Saulo) and Central Luzon (through Hilario) to Ysidra Cojuanco. With the First Republic on the run and the Americans inquiring about the gold, Ysidra dumped the gold into a well, retrieved it later and used it to build the Cojuangco fortune.
1987 Constitution, Article 11, section 15, which stipulates: “The right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired by public officials or employees, from them or from their nominees or transferees, shall not be barred by prescriptions, laches or estoppel."
Ysidra admitted that Luna was indeed her very close friend, and that Luna left her valuables, not once but regularly on many occasions. When asked how much value was involved, Encarnacion replied that while she is not sure of the exact value, it was certainly in huge quantities since several huge caskets were involved.
Manapat asked her if she knew that there were more than one shipment. She emphatically said yes, the shipments were a regular thing. Not only was Encarnacion a friend and confidant of Dońa Ysidra, she is also the daughter of Eulalio Saulo who confirmed to her the story as one of the military escorts of the gold shipment to Ysidra. This is the first direct evidence of a Cojuangco (and Ysidra at that) admitting what many Luna contemporaries long alleged, that the source of the Cojuangco fortune was the gold commandeered by Luna and regularly turned over to Ysidra.
The combined assets controlled by the Cojuangcos total about P200 billion. To recover such wealth under Article 11, section 15 of the 1987 Constitution, one must go to court, and pay a filing fee of half a percent of the amount to be recovered, or P1 billion unrefundable win or lose. Who has that kind of money to risk? Ric Manapat suggests that the three wealthy branches be sued for P1 each. Once the case is won, then the rest of the P200 billion may be sued for. Or alternatively, Manapat suggests that the PCGG pursue the matter with funds appropriated by Congress, the funds merely transferred from one government pocket to another.
Have we seen the mystical devil stealing the land rightfully belonged to Naboth or we have seen the hand of a person in political power [king] and the laws [system] he made resulting to the take-over of land not rightfully belonging to him? The devil being referred at john 10:10 who is stealing and destroying people's life can be seen in the exploitative and oppresive laws [system].
In the writing of James, he wanted to bring to the realization of believers "social realities. James made a cateigorical statement: "Is it not the rich who are exploiting the poor" [Js.2:6]. James could have not said that if he was not able to see real exploitation. What was the basis of James in making a conclusion that the rich were the ones exploiting the poor people? James saw how the rich people are not paying just wages to their workers and how the rich live in luxury at the expense of their worker's labor (james 5:1-6).
The current world system which is capitalism in the stage of globalization has been following this line through exploitative policies like deregulation, privatization and liberalization.
To explain further the essence of these three elements:
First, the privatization it is the policy wherein the Government Own and Controlled Corporations (GOCC's) where privatized by selling it to the private sector.
Second, the deregulation, meaning the government has to cut its control over the industry for basic commodities, e.g., oil, water, electricity.
Lastly, liberalization, is the policy by which all laws regarding import products were amended or abolished, for example tariff and quota.
Privatization is the process where all government own corporations are privatized, and maintained by the private sector. We cannot denied that when a business is in the hands of private institution it is oriented for profit. These GOCC's are basically State's inherent corporations because their services are for the public consumption like the electricity, water, transportation, telecommunications, and the like. They are essentials for the well being of the State.
This trend of Globalization which is a stage of capitalism threaten this State's natural order. This trend, as push by the G7, paving these economic superpowers to access to the basic industries of a subject country. The truth is members of G7 has all the available resources, for the intervention of certain economy of a subject state. Take for example the Philippines, as said it is the largest producer of geothermal energy in the world, yet one of the highest rate of electricity in the world. This is true because the Philippines' electric industry is on the hands of private company. This is also true to other basic industry.
Second element that is deregulation. To deregulate meaning the government has no legislative intervention over the certain corporation which main industry is for public consumption, as long as the company submitted reason of the their actions.
Best example of this is the Philippine Oil Deregulation Law or Republic Act (R.A.) 8479. Before, oil price is under controlled of the government by means of its quasi-agency, Oil Price Stability Fund (OPSF). This quasi-agency hold the price of oil. Logically the fair market value. It is possible because when the price of oil in the world market is low the OPSF remain its price to the local market as it was brought high, the remaining stocks were sold higher than the world market. The government gained huge profit from this scheme. And when the price of oil in the world market go up the government reimburse it from the profit they gained when it was low. So it's a circle as long as the price of oil is stable and affordable.
But when this G7 introduced the policy of globalization, underdeveloped and developing countries no way to run but suck it, bypassing the negative effects. When the R.A. 8479 and the OPSF were abolished, its pave the private companies to raise the price of oil to their discretion. Today the policy of oil price hike in the local market is determined by the movement of world market, which is obviously under controlled by the G7 and the greedy oil exporting countries. Now it is unstable and skyrocketing.
Lastly, the liberalization meaning to liberalize. This process is done by means of amending or worst abolish the laws regarding restriction or limitation of import products, for example the tariff and quota. When a certain economy is liberalized, product of developed countries basically can enter to the developing and least develop nation. It's obvious that these products are surplus from their market, simply outsource the surplus.
As I said earlier that capitalism has already defined, institutionalized and operationalized on how to kill, steal and destroy people's lives not only of Filipinos but world-wide and what we want to see is how the believers will also provide alternative by defining, institutionalizing and operationalizing the statement of Jesus that He came to give life full of abundance here on earth (Jn 10:10).
The challenge is, what policies, laws and system that will bring about life full of abundance for all humanity?
The alternative to private property (capitalism) is to make the means of production public (lands, factories, industries).

And here is my reply:

1. "WHAT laws and policies to be legislated that will concretize love and cooperation?"


- Let law depart from such goals, and focus on its primary task, to serve justice. Its attempt to include love and cooperation among its ends has already brought enough mischief upon mankind. Doing so, the law's purpose has been diverted from its original intent and has run a course against its nature, and thereby became an instrument of coercion, violence, legal murder, and legal plunder.



2. "But the 'LAWS' which Omri introduced and which his son Ahab and daughter-in-law Jezebel enforced continued to contradict with the law of the Lord until finally the law of the Lord was almost forgotten and Israel was wiped out as a nation."


- The comparison of this story into our time is partly true! Human laws should be based on divine law, but due to the reign of humanism that shapes the mind of the intellectuals in various fields of learning including the legal profession, human laws now contain a mixture of just and unjust laws, which predominance depends on the ruling political party of the day. 


3. "Naboth's vineyard and hacienda Luisita."


The story of Naboth's vineyard is clear. Comparing it to the case of Hacienda Luisita requires extreme caution particularly if we do not have access to an accurate and reliable source of information about the latter. The quote from Adam Smith requires a context for it to be properly understood. Taking the story at face value, if it is really true that there was an agreement that hacienda Luisita must be distributed, then let that agreement be implemented.


4. Concerning gold and General Luna, I heard that story several times. What I worry about the idea of "wealth recovery" is that it will make the State even more powerful. The question is wealth recovery for whom and for what purpose? So that the politicians and bureaucrats would have the resources to waste and steal, and to finance its programs?


5. "The devil being referred at john 10:10 who is stealing and destroying people's life can be seen in the exploitative and oppressive laws [system]."


I agree, and that is why to push back the civil government to its proper role, limiting its size and its fund is a worthy goal for those who want to advance liberty. 


6. "In the writing of James, he wanted to bring to the realization of believers "social realities. James made a categorical statement: 'Is it not the rich who are exploiting the poor' [Js.2:6]. James could have not said that if he was not able to see real exploitation. What was the basis of James in making a conclusion that the rich were the ones exploiting the poor people? James saw how the rich people are not paying just wages to their workers and how the rich live in luxury at the expense of their worker's labor (James 5:1-6)."


This passage in James talks about rich who exploits the poor. It is silent about just rich. So to apply the passage indiscriminately to all rich people is misleading. 


7. "As I said earlier that capitalism has already defined, institutionalized and operationalized on how to kill, steal and destroy people's lives not only of Filipinos but world-wide and what we want to see is how the believers will also provide alternative by defining, institutionalizing and operationalizing the statement of Jesus that He came to give life full of abundance here on earth (Jn 10:10)."

If there is any recommendation I could give to the writer, kindly digest Ludwig von Mises "Socialism: An Economic and Socioligical Analysis", and after digesting it return to his article and assess it. In Part 2 Section 1 Chapter 3 of the book, Mises identified at least 5 forms of socialism, and that excludes other pseudo-socialist systems. Reading the above piece, I came up with a conclusion that the writer does not understand the real nature of socialism, the alternative system that he is proposing. He thinks that the existing economic system is capitalism. This is the natural outcome of being schooled in mainstream education. The man is a victim of statist propaganda, and we understand that. Among the 5 forms of socialist system, the reigning economic system in our time is "planned economy" also known as "State Capitalism", that is the Statist version of capitalism, which in reality is no capitalism at all. Socialists do this in their vain search for an answer to their insoluble problem about economic calculation. Socialism has already been debunked by Mises since the writing of the book and most socialists now do not possess the same courage displayed by Robert Heilbroner, a socialist intellectual who humbly admitted their defeat. Expect that many uninformed socialists will try various proposals to save socialism. For those of us who value liberty, let us heed the warning of Ludwig von Mises:
"In the last few years, a new word has been found for that which was covered by the expression "planned economy': State Capitalism, and no doubt in the future many proposals for the salvaging of Socialism will be brought forward. We shall learn many new names for the same old thing. But the thing, not its names, is what matters, and all schemes of this sort will not alter the nature of Socialism" (p. 258).