Many Kinds Of Deaths, Many Months Of Drought

MANILA: For those 5 rallyists killed, 100 injured, 87 farmers and 6 children missing (ANN, 02 April 2016, Bicol Today, bicoltoday.com) – blame them all on all of them:

(1)   Drought
(2)   Farmers
(3)   Rallyists
(4)   Leaders
(5)   Agitators
(6)   Local government units
(7)   Regional office of the DA

Blame the deaths on the drought.
First of all, blame those deaths on the drought that shattered the lives of farmers in North Cotabato (news and image above from John Unson, 30 March 2016, "Drought has dried up this rice field in Tulunan town in North Cotabato," Philippine Star, philstar.com). As you can see, the field is so dry you can easily start a fire. Drought is unforgiving. The drought has left the farmers hungry and angry. They held the rally demanding that 15,000 sacks of rice be released to them by government. I calculated that if there were 5,000 farmers in Cotabato, that will come to only 3 sacks to a family, which I thought was reasonable. Actually, the real problem was not thinking rice but thinking right – on both sides of the imbroglio. And who is to blame for the drought? Aha, that's climate change. And yes, I blame the rice farmers who over-fertilize with nitrogenous fertilizers, which produce nitrous oxide, the deadliest greenhouse gas in the world, 300 times more wicked than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change. (For more on this, see my essay, "Here's What We Can Do At Once To Fight Climate Change," 23 March 2016, A Magazine Called Love. blogspot.com).

And blame the deaths on the farmers.
Blame those deaths on the farmers who had been forewarned on what to do and who did nothing in their favor. Almost 3 years ago to the date, the North Cotabato farmers were advised by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) "to brace for possible cuts in irrigation supplies in the coming weeks due to the worsening effects of the continuing dry spell in the area" – I have written about this (see my essay, "Ilala & Cotabato's Drought Of A Thousand Days," 31 March 2016, A Magazine Called Love, blogspot.com). Nonetheless, here note that the NIA said "coming weeks" and "worsening effects" and "continuing dry spell" – the farmers took no note of that and behaved as they had always behaved:

No to water conservation. If you have irrigation water, flood the field and don't let go, never mind the farmers downstream. If you have shallow tube well, congratulate yourself, but don't conserve the water – it's free, you know, and there's a never-ending supply in the underground. If there is rain, rejoice and be glad. But don't do anything else. Don't harvest the rain. Don't store the rain in the soil by building up its organic matter.

The farmers ignored the reality impinging on their consciousness: In a drought, if you don't do anything to nurture your crop, you will end up nurturing your hope.

And blame the deaths on the rallyists.
Blame those deaths on the protesters who did not want to break up their rally after their permit expired on Friday morning, 01 April (ANN, 01 April 2016, Rappler, rappler.com). I'm sure there were participants other than farmers. They were looking for trouble, and they found it. It was stubbornness, or stupidity.

And blame the deaths on the leaders.
Blame those deaths on their leaders who did not police their own ranks. Some 50 years ago, when in College we were protesting the American War in Vietnam, we were very careful not to break ranks, holding each other's hands to prevent any unauthorized exit or entry into the ranks. And I always got off even before the expiration of the permit. You don't tempt the devil. Better safe than sorry.

And blame the deaths on the agitators.
Blame those deaths on trouble-makers. In my experience, there is always an agitator or two, whether from your rank or from the police. You have to watch out for those; they are always looking for trouble, and you may be a victim of it.

And blame the deaths on the local government units.
Blame those deaths on the local government units (especially the provincial) who did not police the police, more so the police for not exercising maximum tolerance as provided for in RA 880, "The Public Assembly Act of 1985." If the protectors of the people abuse them, whom can they turn to?

Finally, blame the deaths on the regional office of the DA.
Ultimately, blame those deaths on the regional office of the DA who did not teach the farmers how to deal with the drought since 3 years ago yet! Don't tell me the DA doesn't know anything about how farmers can deal with a drought and win.

About farmers dealing with a drought, if you don't believe in what I an agriculturist and original thinker prescribe, that which I call "Landscape Agriculture" (see my essay, "Frank H's Landscape Agriculture: Can you see the water?" 26 March 2016, A Magazine Called Love. blogspot.com), there is such a thing as conservation agriculture, which is prescribed by prestigious institutions including Cornell University in the US ("What is Conservation Agriculture," mannlib.cornell.edu). According to Cornell U, CA has 3 core principles:

(1)   Maintenance of a permanent or semi-permanent soil cover
(2)   Minimum soil disturbance through tillage
(3)   Regular crop rotations

Soil cover – You use the previous crop leftover or grow a cover crop for the purpose. The leftover becomes your mulch, to keep the moisture from evaporating. The cover crop shields the soil from the direct rays of the sun and prevent evaporation.

Minimum tillage – Cultivate the soil just enough to get the seed into the soil. You don't plow the soil to evaporate the moisture in it.

Crop rotation – Instead of rice-rice, change crops so that the pest population will die out naturally for lack of food (host plant). Yes, this is healthful agriculture, as this is biological pest control, no pesticides involved.

If you don't practice conservation agriculture, your soil is good as dead. If the farmers in Cotabato did all those CA practices in all those months (36 months), today they would not be complaining of any drought but, instead, gloating of their harvests despite the drought.

Aside from conservation agriculture, I still have one lesson for the Cotabato farmers still thinking of another and maybe even fiercer rally, and I borrow it from American R Buckminster Fuller, renowned 20th century inventor and visionary who said:

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."

That is contrary to the advice of American William Faulkner, a Nobel Prize winner for Literature (1949), who said:

"Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the Earth."

That explains why rallyists rally, shouting for the better; it is what I shall now call the Faulknerian Hope, which up to now is a thing devoutly to be wished, unlikely to be fulfilled. As I eventually learned when I was very much younger, decades after participating in rallies against the American War in Vietnam, borrowing now from the greatest British author William Shakespeare, rallying is all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Blame the deaths of the rallyists on the death of collaboration of farmers with the rest of society, on the ease with which farmers can hold a rally, clinging desperately on their Faulknerian courage.

Bongbong Marcos, of all the presidential candidates, has offered the best advice (ANN, 01 April 2016, "Violent dispersal of farmers' rally probed," People's Journal, journal.com.ph). He urged that an Inter-Agency Committee be formed to start a dialogue. "Cooler heads must take the lead so we can come up with a win-win solution to (the farmers') plight."

And yes, you start with the farmers, because they don't seem to appreciate a win-win situation!



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