Monday, May 21, 2007

Context for the conduct of free and fair elections

"It is very clear that extreme conditions of poverty, wide disparity in wealth and income, large-scale unemployment, the existence of powerful land owning groups, provide a very disturbing context for the conduct of free and fair elections".

These words are from an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Foreign observers note fraud, violence in Negros Occidental).

We just came back from a 3 week vacation in the Philippines. We were not there during the elections but we saw a lot of the election propaganda during our stay there. It is very disturbing to read these reports.

When the 2006 Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to Muhammad Yumus (the founder of the Grameen Bank), the citation expressed that "lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights".

If landlords genuinely want peace in the province, they should help in their capacity to alleviate the poverty among their workers. Helping to provide access to micro-credit loans, access to education and training can be means to achieving a better life for all. Less for self, more for others, enough for all.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen to that, one of the reason why you guys are doing the legacy that your grandmother had started. God Bless you All! Continue the good work

Anonymous said...

The idea that somehow poverty in the Philippines is linked to landlessness, or greedy landlords is a false one. Look at Europe, for centuries up to and including the present, most individuals do not own any land. Its the same with Japan and Korea. What we have in the Philippines is domination of the economy by foreigners and foreign groups not Filipinos. That is what crushes hopes and dreams and stifles real economic gains for the majority of our people. Those groups trade strictly amounst themselves and prevent Filipinos any real meaningful opportuities to enter the economic mainstream. A quick glance at the list of the 40 wealthiest people in our country, (also published in the PDI and the Manila Times)tells the whole story...

Robin Abello said...

Helping to provide access to micro-credit loans, access to education and training does not mean giving away land. In most cases, this means giving farm workers a chance to seek a livelihood outside the farm. The goal of St. Francis of Assisi school is to give a chance for a better life for the children of the farm workers so their children can pursue a better life outside the farm. In our micro-credit program, our hope is the partners can build a viable business that pays more than working in the farm.

We cannot keep on blaming foreigners for poverty in the Philippines. We Filipinos need to take up the challenge and help our fellow Filipinos. The GK movement is proving that an attitude of stewardship and fellowship among Filipinos is strong enough to battle poverty in the Philippines.