Tagged ‘Philippines‘

Vaccination: Most Deceptive Tool of Imperialism

Bulatlat, Journalism for People

October 12, 2019

By Dr. Romeo F. Quijano

Video still: “A Public Eye report leads to the Philippines, to people who have worked with the highly toxic pesticide Paraquat for years, without training and without being aware of the dangers. The Filipino doctor and activist Dr. Romeo Quijano speaks about the consequences for the health and the responsibility of the Swiss group Syngenta” [Source]

Vaccination is probably the most deceptive tool of imperialism that even anti-imperialists often fail to recognize. It displays a humanitarian face but has the soul of a beast. Its true character is that of a deceptive agent of imperialism. The romanticism of western medicine has masked the true nature and ethos of vaccination. However, using the anti-imperialist tool, pedagogy of the oppressed (1), a diligent and deeper study of the history of vaccination and the socio-political and cultural context of that history would reveal the true character of vaccination.

Vaccination is the process of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific infectious organism. It is not the same as immunization (which has been mistakenly used interchangeably with vaccination), which is the process of conferring immunity, not necessarily through vaccination. Immunity is the capacity of the body to protect itself from the development of a disease due to exposure to an infectious organism. Imperialism is usually defined as expansion of economic activities, especially investment, sales, extraction of raw materials, and use of labor to produce commodities and services beyond national boundaries, as well as the social, political, and economic effects of this expansion. I would define Imperialism as: Intervention of Monopolistic Power Exploiting the Resources of Impoverished Areas Leading to Increased Social Misery (I-M-P-E-R-I-A-L-I-S-M).

If we look carefully into the history of vaccination, we will find that the development of vaccination coincided with the development of imperialism. Medicine and public health have played important roles in imperialism. With the emergence of the United States as an imperial power in the early twentieth century, interlinkages between imperialism, the business elite, public health, and health institutions were forged through several key mediating institutions. Philanthropic organizations sought to use public health initiatives to address several challenges faced by expanding capitalist enterprises: labor productivity, safety for investors and managers, and the costs of care (2).

In the early 1900s, the capitalist magnate Rockefeller already had a hand in the development of smallpox vaccine. Rockefeller’s pioneering virologist Tom Rivers (1888-1962) undertook to develop a safer vaccine by growing the virus in tissue culture. The result was an attenuated strain of virus that was better than the earlier vaccines produced in England. It was the first vaccine used in humans to be grown in tissue culture. Rivers’ interaction with Rockefeller Foundation scientists, who were then working to make a yellow fever vaccine in Foundation laboratories on the Rockefeller Institute campus, influenced Max Theiler to create an attenuated virus vaccine. Theiler later won a Nobel Prize for this work (3). Parke-Davis also was a pioneer in vaccine production. The company set up shop in 1907 in Rochester hills, Michigan, pitching a circus tent to house horses and constructing a vaccine-propagating building, a sterilizing room and a water tank(4). Parke-Davis was once America’s oldest and largest drug maker. It was acquired by Warner Lambert company in 1970, which in turn was acquired in 2000 by Pfizer, which is now the largest pharmaceutical company in the world(5,6). Pfizer claims that it was involved in the commercial production of a smallpox vaccine in the early 1900s, that it was the first to develop a heat-stable, freeze-dried smallpox vaccine as well as the bifurcated needle, the first to introduce a combined vaccine for preventing diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus and had produced more than 600 million doses of the first live trivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (7). These medical advances coincided with the emergence of what has been called “New Imperialism” when European states established vast empires mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East (8) and almost at the same period, the United States colonized the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, Kingdom of Hawaii, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and for short periods, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Cuba (9, 10).

Imperialism is driven by the pressure of capital for external fields of investment. The recurrent crises of overproduction and subsequent diminution of profits and stagnation of capital leads to ever-increasing pressure to expand markets and territories. The tendency for investors to work towards the political annexation of countries which contain their more speculative investments is very powerful. Imperialism is seen as a necessity by the capitalists so they can continue to accumulate wealth. Capitalist greed was hidden behind the curtain of “manifest destiny” and “mission to civilize colonized people”. It was the Robber Barons of the time, the likes of Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Cooke, Shwab, Fisk, Harriman and their ilk who actually needed Imperialism and who were fastening it upon the shoulders of the government. They used the public resources of their country for their capitalist expansion (11). Imperialism, therefore, was adopted as a political policy and practice by the government which was controlled by the business elite. The Government and private corporations sought ways to maximize profits. Economic expansion demanded cheap labor, access to or control of markets to sell or buy products, and extraction of natural resources. They met these demands through plunder and tyrannical rule.

However, the imperialists experienced excess diseases and deaths among their troops, civil servants and traders. They had to do something about it. With the advent of the “Germ Theory” of disease, it was believed that these diseases and deaths were caused by infectious organisms. This belief led to the development of drugs and vaccines that the colonial powers wholeheartedly embraced. That was the beginning of Big Pharma. Initially the advances in medicine were introduced for the protection of colonial troops and civil servants, then for the local people working for the colonial power and eventually for the whole population. Improved health care was also included with the provision of hospitals and, as for the other measures, these were initially for the military, then for expatriates and finally for the local people (12). The pioneer pharmaceutical companies of that time and the financial elite clearly saw the huge profits to be made from vaccination and the provision of pharmaceuticals. Among the most cited justification for colonial rule is the introduction of “modern health care” to the subjugated people. Thus, health became an instrument of pacification of the oppressed and the people were made to believe that colonialism was good for them. However, the introduction of health care technologies like vaccines and drugs are really not out of altruistic intentions of the colonial power but more for the satisfaction of the imperialist’s plunderous desires. In fact, systematic public health regimes originated as military programs in support of imperialist expansion. Private charities entered the field as colonial conquests were consolidated. The colonizer was more concerned with maximizing the exploitation of imperialized labor and extraction of the natural resources of the conquered people.

Since then, the elimination or control of disease in tropical countries became a driving force for all colonial powers. In the colonized world, public health measures encouraged by Rockefeller’s International Health Commission yielded increases in profit extraction, as each worker could now be paid less per unit of work, “but with increased strength was able to work harder and longer and received more money in his pay envelope”. Rockefeller’s research programs promised greater scope for future US military adventures in the Global South, where occupying armies had often been hamstrung by tropical diseases (13). The Rockefeller programs did not concern themselves with workers’ physical productivity alone. They were also intended to reduce the cultural resistance of “backward” and “uncivilized” peoples to the domination of their lives and societies by industrial capitalism. The Rockefeller Foundation discovered that medicine was an almost irresistible force in the colonization of non-industrialized countries. During the US occupation of the Philippines, Rockefeller Foundation president George Vincent was quite frank in saying, “Dispensaries and physicians have of late been peacefully penetrating areas of the Philippine Islands and demonstrating the fact that for purposes of placating primitive and suspicious peoples medicine has some advantages over machine guns” (14).

Mass vaccination emerged as a major imperialist program, notwithstanding the erroneous, reductionist concept behind it and despite the utter lack of proper safety and efficacy studies. Vaccination was hailed as the savior of colonized people from infectious disease despite clear evidence of adverse effects worse than the original disease. Many of these forced mass vaccination campaigns resulted in disastrous results. For example, in the Philippines, prior to U.S. takeover in 1905, case mortality from smallpox was about 10%. In 1905, following the commencement of systematic vaccination enforced by the U.S. government, an epidemic occurred where the case mortality ranged from 25% to 50% in different parts of the islands. In 1918-1919 with over 95 percent of the population vaccinated, the worst epidemic in the Philippines’ history occurred resulting in a case mortality of 65 percent. The lowest percentage occurred in Mindanao, the least vaccinated place, owing to religious prejudices. Dr. V. de Jesus, Director of Health, stated that the 1918-1919 smallpox epidemic resulted in 60,855 deaths. In Japan, after compulsory vaccination was mandated, there were 171,611 smallpox cases with 47,919 deaths recorded between 1889 and 1908, a case mortality of 30 percent, exceeding the smallpox death rate of the pre-vaccination period. At about the same time, in Australia, one of the least-vaccinated countries in the world for smallpox, had only three smallpox cases in 15 years. In England and Wales, between 1934 and 1961, not one death from natural smallpox infection was recorded, and yet during this same period, 115 children under 5 years of age died as a result of the smallpox vaccination. The situation was just as bad in the USA where 300 children died from the complications of smallpox vaccine from 1948 to 1969. Yet during that same period there was not one reported case of smallpox in the country (15).

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano

Similar disastrous results also happened with the polio vaccine. The majority of polio cases actually do not cause symptoms in those who are infected. Symptoms occur in only approximately 5 percent of infections (16) with a case fatality rate of only about 0.4%. Even during the peak epidemics, poliovirus infection resulting in long-term paralysis, was a low-incidence disease that was falsely represented as a rampant and violent paralytic disease by fund raising advertising campaigns to fast track development and approval and release of the Salk vaccine with Rockefeller as the key supporter. Because of outside pressure, the US licensing committee in charge of approving the vaccine did so after deliberating for only two hours without first having read the full research (17). This hasty approval led to the infamous “Cutter disaster”, the poliomyelitis epidemic that was initiated by the use of the Salk vaccine produced by Cutter vaccine company. In the end, at least 220,000 people were infected with live polio virus contained in the Cutter’s vaccine; 70,000 developed muscle weakness, 164 were severely paralyzed, 10 were killed. Seventy five percent of Cutter’s victims were paralyzed for the rest of their lives (18). When national immunization campaigns were initiated in the 1950s, the number of reported cases of polio following mass inoculations with the killed-virus vaccine was significantly greater than before mass inoculations and may have more than doubled in the U.S. as a whole (19). Wyeth was also found much later to have produced a paralyzing vaccine. All other manufacturers’ vaccines released in the 1950s were sold and injected into America’s children and millions of vaccines were also exported all around the world (17). The “eradication” of smallpox and the seemingly dramatic decline of polio cannot be largely attributed to the vaccines. There never was valid scientific study that supported the claim that the vaccines caused the decline of the disease. The combined effects of social and environmental determinants of what was poliomyelitis at that time were the most likely reasons for the decline. The polio vaccine was propelled more into widespread use by economic, political and personal interests of imperialists rather than by science and public health interests. It is well established scientifically that the decline in mortality rates of infectious diseases was due largely to socio-economic determinants (improved nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, etc.) and the strengthening of natural immunity. Medical intervention using vaccines and antibiotics was late in coming and whatever contribution it made in the overall decline of mortality over time was miniscule at best. In fact, there is a large body of scientific and narrative evidence that the vaccines cause various acute and chronic adverse effects and likely resulted in delaying the decline of infectious diseases to a relatively insignificant and naturally manageable health problem. Vaccination, an invasive and un-natural induction of immune response, which was largely inappropriate, did not really help but instead, created more problems, among which is the emergence of highly virulent strains of microorganisms. One un-anticipated potentially disastrous adverse effect of vaccination is the disruption of natural immunity among the people in communities. Nevertheless, despite overwhelming contrary scientific evidence, the overwhelming power of the ruling elite successfully implanted the entrenched belief that vaccination had eradicated smallpox and dramatically reduced deaths from polio and other infectious diseases. This widely held belief allowed the global ruling class to hide behind humanitarian posturing and mask their true agenda of global dominance and maximizing profits for Big Business.

After World War II, public health philanthropy became closely aligned with US foreign policy as neocolonialism thrust “development” on Third World nations. The major foundations collaborated with USAID and allied agencies in support of interventions aimed at increasing production of raw materials while creating new markets for Western manufactured goods. The concept of “global health governance” (GHG) arose in the early 1990s, reflecting US confidence that the fall of the Soviet Union would usher in a unipolar world dominated by American interests. This was a vision of diffuse, omnipresent power to be exercised collaboratively by the institutions of global capitalism and guaranteed, in the last resort, by the US military. The Alma Ata principles became moot as structural adjustment programs decimated Third World government investments in public health. Corporate globalization intensified with neoliberal imposition of liberalization, deregulation and privatization. The new global health governance regime systematically bypassed or compromised national health ministries via “public-private partnerships” and similar schemes. To soften the resistance against imperialist interventions in health, “emerging infections” were hyped as inevitable and potentially catastrophic and the global health governance scheme was framed within the larger discourse of “security” that arose in the wake of the dubious 9/11 event. Worldwide alarm about bioterrorism provided an opportunity to link together health and national/international security. Not only would health-care workers open the funds for a medical front in the War on Terror, but also military forces would routinely be mobilized as a response to health disasters. Imperial interventions in the health field began to be justified in the same terms as recent “humanitarian” military interventions. Some analysts denounced the militarization of public health as worryingly authoritarian and strategically counterproductive, but to Bill Gates, the world’s second richest man, it was a welcome development. Gates’ endorsement was especially significant because his foundation had become the leading exemplar of philanthropy in the era of global health governance (13).

Parents of children vaccinated with Dengvaxia attend a Senate hearing in the Philippines.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is now by far the world’s largest private foundation; with more than $50 billion in assets. The bulk of its activities are directed at the people of the imperialized world, where its ostensible mission involves providing birth control and combatting infectious diseases. BMGF exercises power not only by means of its own spending but also through steering an elaborate network of “partner organizations” including nonprofits, government agencies, and private corporations. As the second largest donor to the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), it is a dominant player in the formation of global health policy. It orchestrates elaborate public-private partnerships and is the chief funder and prime mover behind the Vaccine Alliance (formerly GAVI), a public-private partnership between the World Health Organization and the vaccine industry. The chief beneficiary of BMGF’s activities is not the people of the Global South but the Western pharmaceutical industry. The Gates Foundation’s ties with the pharmaceutical and vaccine making industry are intimate, complex, and long-standing. Soon after its founding, BMGF invested $205 million to purchase stakes in major pharmaceutical companies, including Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson, and GlaxoSmithKline. BMGF’s interventions are designed to create lucrative markets for surplus pharmaceutical products, especially vaccines (13, 20).

The vaccine producing companies belong to the largest interlocking corporations controlled directly or indirectly by a few highly secretive business and power elite who effectively rule the world and impose imperialist policies. Large corporations have become more and more interrelated through shared directors and common institutional investors. In 2004, A team of Swiss systems theorists, utilizing a database of 37 million companies and investors worldwide, studied the share ownerships linking over 43,000 transnational corporations. They found that a core 1,318 companies, representing 20 percent of global operating revenues, “appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues”. When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group (21). These business elite is intimately linked to the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR, founded in 1921, is a United States think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. The CFR runs the Rockefeller Studies Program and convenes government officials, global business leaders and prominent members of the intelligence and foreign-policy community to discuss international issues and make recommendations to the presidential administration and the diplomatic community (22). Some critics and political analysts have called the Council for Foreign Relations the “Shadow Government” (US) that is pulling the strings behind the scene.

The Vaccination Trojan Horse of Imperialism in recent years has become much bigger with the growing power of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is the main driver of global health policy. It is now the second biggest donor to WHO. With the USA as the biggest donor, US imperialism’s hold over WHO has become almost absolute. Bill Gates is the first private individual to keynote WHO’s general assembly of member countries. One delegate remarked: “He is treated liked a head of state, not only at the WHO, but also at the G20” (23). BMGF has been compared to “a massive, vertically integrated multinational corporation (MNC), controlling every step in a supply chain that reaches from its Seattle-based boardroom, through various stages of procurement, production, and distribution, to millions of nameless, impoverished ‘end-users’ in the villages of Africa and South Asia”. It has a functional monopoly in the field of public health. In the words of one NGO official: “You can’t cough, scratch your head or sneeze in health without coming to the Gates Foundation” (13).

With his unprecedented power, Bill Gates was able to initiate an elaborate neoliberal financing scheme for vaccines that inevitably transfers public funds to private coffers. Ostensibly, the scheme is designed to help developing countries to fund their vaccination programs but in reality, these countries are caught in a debt-trap. This so-called “innovative development financing” is a debt-based mechanism that taps capital markets to subsidize vaccine buyers and manufacturers through an intermediary, the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm). GAVI floats bonds which are secured by the promise of government donors to buy millions of doses of vaccines at a set price over periods as long as 20 years. Capitalists take a cut at every stage of the value chain while poor countries are supposed to benefit from access to vaccines that might not otherwise be affordable. Bondholders receive a tax-free guaranteed return on investment, suited to an era of ultra-low interest rates. Pharmaceutical firms, meanwhile, are able to peddle expensive vaccines at subsidized prices in a cash-poor but vast and risk-free market. By creating a predictable demand pull, IFFIm addresses a major constraint to immunization scale-up: the scarcity of stable, predictable, and coordinated cash flows for an extended period. (13,24). Recent BMGF/GAVI activities in Sri Lanka offer a virtual case study in what has been called “pharmaceutical colonialism.” GAVI targeted the country in 2002, offering to subsidize a high priced, patented pentavalent DtwP-hepB-Hib vaccine. In exchange for GAVI’s support, the country agreed to add the vaccine to its national immunization schedule. Within three months of the vaccine’s introduction, 24 adverse reactions including 4 deaths were reported, leading Sri Lanka to suspend use of the vaccine. Subsequently, 21 infants died from adverse reactions in India (13).

The real underlying cause of deaths in epidemics is the dysfunctional health care system brought about by chronic socio-economic underdevelopment characteristic of a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society victimized by imperialism, not the loss of vaccine confidence due to the “Dengvaxia scare”. Corporate hijacking of the health care system with the complicity of government, international institutions, mainstream medicine and various cohorts deprived the people of their right to health. Profit has become the primary driving factor in addressing a public health problem, not public welfare. Deregulation, privatization and liberalization, the hallmarks of corporate globalization, the new face of imperialism, have practically wiped-out whatever remaining affordable basic needs and social services, especially health services, are available to the majority of the population. Worse, under the guise of economic development, big business juggernaut in mining, plantations, coal, dams and other environmentally destructive and socially disruptive mega-projects have devastated community-empowering and truly sustainable, poverty alleviating, health promoting and climate resilient initiatives. The concomitant and worsening assaults (including extrajudicial killings) on fundamental human rights have subjected marginalized people to extreme physical, biological, psychological and social stress and have repeatedly been forced to be displaced from their land, homes, crops and other means of survival. Under these circumstances, infectious disease epidemics and other serious health problems are bound to arise and worsen. The root cause of epidemics in this country is imperialism. Liberation is the answer, not vaccination.


[Romeo F. Quijano, M.D. is a retired professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. He is president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Philippines. He served as the co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, bureau member of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and as a standing committee member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading toxicologists.]


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Palawan: Stop Blaming Indigenous Peoples’ Farming Practices (Kaingin) for Deforestation

Look Instead to Boom Crops, Oil Palm Plantations and Mining

Intercontinental Cry

April 28, 2015

by Coalition against Land Grabbing and United Tribes of Palawan


Batak ancestral land, sustainably managed through traditional kaingin practices

Recent years have seen an exponential increase in land deals across the Philippines with the conversion of large expanses of land with crops mainly intended for export. Meanwhile, traditional upland farming practices implemented through swidden (‘slash-and-burn’) technology–known locally as kaingin or more appropriately uma–are demonized and antagonized through restrictive legislation. This is despite the fact that the latter fosters local self-sufficiency and plays a fundamental role in the livelihoods and worldviews of Indigenous societies.

Palawan, known as the “Philippine last Frontier”, in spite of its unique recognition as a UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve, has not been spared from massive investments in extractive resources and industrial agriculture, especially oil palm and rubber. And yet, Indigenous Peoples and upland dwellers continue to be blamed for causing massive deforestation and ecological disaster.

Not surprisingly, the recent front cover of a well known Philippine Newspaper (The Daily Inquirer, May 9 issue) holds a headline accompanied by a powerful image that easily conflates all upland peoples as criminal agriculturalists.

“Images are powerful and can be damaging,” says Wolfram Dressler, a Research Fellow from the University of Melbourne (Australia), who has carried out extensive anthropological research in Palawan. “They can direct blame without nuance and context. The masses (and government) absorb such images to reinforce centuries-old narratives demonizing kaingin—a term that many farmers avoid because of its pejorative nature,” Dressler adds.

The Inquirer‘s article was triggered by an aerial survey carried out by the Center for Sustainability (CS), a nonprofit organization that supposedly works for sustainable development in Palawan. The group spotted key locations from the air, previously covered by forest, which have now been cleared as a result of external forces such as mining, oil palm plantation development and shifting agriculture. According to the group, in addition to clearing by ‘poor farmers’, forest burning in the south has been linked to the proliferation of palm oil and rubber plantations, and the main target of ‘slash-and-burn’ activities is the clearing of primary forests for development.

Ironically, for carrying out its photo survey, CS conservationists borrowed the private plane of multimillionaire Jose Alvarez, the present Governor of Palawan, who is a well-known supporter of large-scale agro-industry development (especially rubber which accelerates deforestation and deprives more traditional indigenous communities of their resource-base). He is a member of the same family that logged Northern Palawan’s forest in the eighties. He also chairs the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD). In principle, this government body is mandated to ensure the sustainable development of the whole province through the implementation of a Strategic Environmental Plan or SEP (R.A. Republic Act 7611). Under the SEP, no development project should take place in Palawan unless the proponents secure a so-called SEP clearance. In reality, massive oil palm expansion and related forest clearing takes place without the requisite SEP clearance.


Massive forest clearing for oil palm plantations in Sandoval, Municipality of Bataraza

Marivic Bero, Secretary General of the Coalition against Land Grabbing (CALG), comments,

“Here in Palawan, we have the best laws in place to protect both the environment and the rights of our Indigenous Peoples. However, the limits of law lie within the implementation process, wherein rules and regulations are conditioned by the inability of concerned government agencies and their officials to stand by their own mandates”.

She further argues that the government prohibition to ban kaingin represents a blatant violation of the major tenets of the ‘Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997’ (Republic Act no. 8371) which recognizes, protects and promotes the rights of indigenous cultural communalities. “This is a very powerful law… and should not be undermined by ‘minor’ laws and municipal ordinances banning shifting cultivation”, says Bero.

While Palawan’s environment is being ravaged–by agribusiness (mainly oil palm and rubber), mining enterprises and various forms of land grabbing–state agencies such as PCSD (as well as some Palawan NGOs) still view Indigenous kaingin as ‘illegitimate agriculture’ and as the primary cause of deforestation. “Turning a blind eye to the plunder of forests by industrial logging, mining activities, agribusiness, and livestock production, state agencies continue to label and classify kaingin farmers as primitive, backward and unproductive who waste valuable forest resources, particularly timber”, Dressler points out. “In this way, government agencies have unleashed anti-kaingin campaigns that justified the resettling of kaingineros and adoption of permanent forms of agriculture that are not suited for the uplands. In turn, kaingin is coercively regulated with fines or jail time, while indigenous upland farmers are frequently harassed by forest guards.”

In 1994, a ban against shifting cultivation (bawal sa kaingin) was enforced by former Mayor Edward Hagedorn through the so-called ‘bantay gubat’: an implementing arm composed of poorly trained forest guards. Sadly, when this happened, no murmur of dissent was raised by Palawan NGOs, in spite of the severe hardship experienced by hundreds of Indigenous communities because of the ban. The latter, however, was strongly opposed by Survival International (SI). An international campaign by SI resulted in a partial lifting of the ban. In the end, the former Mayor decided to allow Batak as well as Tagbanua tribes continue their traditional kaingin practices with a ‘controlled burning’ in place of the previous ‘zero burning’ policy. However, as the years passed by, the ban on kaingin was renewed with gusto. It is now being implemented under the current administration.

“Ever since the ban on shifting cultivation was implemented in PPC Municipality, Survival has been lobbying for the government to exempt Indigenous communities, such as the Batak, from the ban”, explains Sophie Grig, Senior Campaigner at Survival International.

“We are disappointed that in spite of international pressure, the local government still continues to implement a law which is creating food-shortage and malnutrition amongst the previously self-sufficient tribes of Northern Palawan”. In spite of its failure, the ‘ban on kaingin’ initially implemented in Puerto Princesa Municipality, is now being emulated by others. Recently, the Government of Brooke’s Point has proposed the implementation of similar restrictions in its own municipality and, if the ban will push through, hundreds of upland Pala’wan communities will be threatened with food insecurity and malnourishment.

The CS aerial survey added more fuel to the fire, through the production of dramatic photos that are presented without due context. These images prompted Governor Jose Chaves Alvarez to declare war on kaingin by proposing the creation of a “forest conservation task force that will undertake a 10-year plan to arrest the problem of slash-and-burn farming”.

“We are extremely worried about these new developments,” says John Mart Salunday, an Indigenous Tagbanua who is presiding NATRIPAL, the largest Indigenous federation in Palawan.

“There are several indigenous communities’ conserved areas (ICCAs) in our province where traditional kaingin has been sustainably practiced from [generation to generation]. Unfortunately, the ‘anti-kaingin policy’ and the ‘bantay gubat’ implementing it, make no distinction between unsustainable ‘kaingin’ done by Filipino migrants and the traditional ‘kaingin’ still practiced by many Indigenous Peoples.”

“Upland rice is such a strong part of our identify and our people have selected more than 80 varieties of rice over hundreds of years, not to mention the diversity of other crops: cassava, ubi, sweet potato, banana and many others. If all this is taken away from us, our tribes will have no future.”


A group of indigenous Pala’wan planting upland rice in the Municipality of Brooke’s Point.
The richness and complexity of indigenous upland farming systems in Palawan has not gone unnoticed to both local and foreign researchers such as Roy Cadelina, James Eder, Melanie McDermott, Nicole Revel, Charles Macdonald, Wolfram Dressler and Dario Novellino who have carried out in-depth studies on indigenous farming practices and their relevance in local cosmologies, worldviews, identities and ethnobiological knowledge.

“If one compares the wisdom of Indigenous upland farmers to the ignorance of most foresters, politicians and conservation biologists in the same field of knowledge, the gap is striking,” observes Dario Novellino, an anthropologist from the Centre for Biocultural Diversity at the University of Kent (UK), who has lived in Palawan for almost 30 years. Novellino maintains that the government ban on kaingin in Puerto Princesa, rather than protecting the environment, has placed insurmountable pressure on the forest and altered the sustainability of the indigenous farming system.

“I have seen forest guards (bantay gubat) advising Indigenous farmers to cut only very small trees for their ‘uma’ (upland fields) and to cultivate the same plots of land continuously… These indications are based on a very poor understanding of forest ecology. If you clear areas where only small trees are found, it means that you are going to plant land that has not yet regenerated its soil nutrients. When you cultivate these fragile soils, over and over, you cause them to become infertile. Ultimately, only cogun (Imperata cylindrica) will thrive in these areas… the forest will never grow back.”

Well-known scholars have argued that traditionally practiced kaingin (or integral kaingin) involves the intermittent clearing of small patches of forest for subsistence food crop production, followed by longer periods of fallow in which forest re-growth restores productivity to the land.

Dressler explains,

“Kaingin can yield complex assemblages of forest and other vegetation in unique mosaics comprised of open canopy tree associations to mature closed-canopy forest systems best understood at the landscape scale. As a complex system of agriculture and forestry, integrating production from cultivated fields and diverse secondary forests, kaingin farming may yield a wide range of ecosystem services and resources integral to livelihoods and forest environments in the mountains of Palawan.”


IPs victim of the ban against ‘kaingin’. This child is forced to eat small quantities of purchased rice since his tribe can no longer plant it.

However, when such a complex system is altered–for instance, through the implementation of punitive policies–the repercussions on forest ecology and people’s sustenance becomes dramatic. According to Novellino, when Indigenous upland communities are not allowed to procure carbohydrates (rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, etc.) necessary for physical survival, through their farming practices, they are forced to increase pressure on commercially valuable NTFPs (non-timber forest products) such as rattan, almaciga and honey which they must in turn sell to purchase rice. This can result in the swift depletion of non-timber forest resources and place even more pressure on the forest itself. Indeed, this is exactly what happened because of the implementation of the ‘zero burning policy’ by former Mayor Edward Hagedorn.

One can only speculate why the Government of Palawan is so quick to raise its voice against kaingin while remaining silent about the huge expanses of forest and fertile land that the agro-industry receives. We know the official explanation: oil palms are only planted on ‘idle’ and ‘abandoned’ land to enhance the province’s economy while increasing job opportunities and transforming unused areas into productive plantations. But are such lands truly ‘idle’ and ‘abandoned’? A recent study by ALDAW (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch) indicates that the answer is ‘No’. According to the study, most of the so-called ‘idle’ and ‘unproductive’ lands include areas that have been used since time immemorial by Indigenous societies.

“The removal of natural vegetation and of previous agricultural improvements by oil palm plantations is leading to the total collapse of traditional livelihoods, thus fostering communities’ impoverishment and increasing malnutrition”, says Novellino. He sustains the Government has failed to consider that most of the so-called ‘idle’ and ‘underdeveloped’ lands include areas that are being utilized by rural and Indigenous populations for different purposes (gathering of NTFPs and medicinal plants, kaingin, etc.). He believes that a direct relationship exists between oil palm/cash crop expansion, the impoverishment of people’s diets, the progressive deterioration of traditional livelihoods and the interruption of cultural transmissions related to particular aspects of local knowledge.

Dressler argues,

“In contrast to commercially oriented monocultures, mixed swidden systems benefit Palawan’s Indigenous Peoples by offering a variety of timber and non-timber harvests for subsistence and commercial sales to diversify production and spread risks, thus avoiding the ecological and economic shocks associated with relying on one product too heavily.”

Apparently, this is not perceived by the Government as a strong enough reason to switch its development agenda towards more sustainable forms of agriculture. Instead, local food security continues to be sacrificed in the name of oil palm and rubber development while anti-kaingin policies are strongly implemented with no distinction between traditional Indigenous farming practices and migrants’ unsustainable slash-and-burning.

Welly Mande, a Tagbanua of CALG, comments,

“If the government is serious about ensuring the welfare of its constituents it should enhance the capability of upland farmers to produce enough food, rather than fostering cash crop[s] such as [oil palm] and rubber that are not for local consumption but for export.

What we would need instead are lower risk models of agricultural development that give a greater share of benefits to the poor while improving and fostering the production of endemic crops such as coconuts and rice.”

For the sake of fairness, we should now ask ourselves whether Indigenous shifting cultivation practices throughout Palawan are sustainable (based on long fallow periods). At present, they are not sustainable; nevertheless, the blame for forest destruction should not be placed on upland dwellers. One need only look at the historical process that led to unsustainable kaingin practices such as the dramatic reduction of Indigenous ancestral domains due to massive migration of landless farmers, encroachment by mining and plantation companies, insurgency and militarization just to mention few.

It is a rather nice irony that official propaganda against kaingin–coupled by NGOs’ market-based conservation approaches–continues to provide additional incentives for international institutions to finance more of the same (e.g. reforestation of indigenous fallow fields which are wrongly classified as ‘degraded areas’). Often, such reforestation programs deprive local communities of areas that are necessary for field rotation, thus jeopardizing the sustainability of their farming system.

It will require detailed and multidisciplinary studies to determine where, and to what extent, the conditions for optimal long fallows in Palawan are still present and how many Indigenous communities are still practicing long rotation cycles. In turn, the law should move away from coercion and demonization of kaingin towards more culturally-sensitive approaches that provide incentives to Indigenous cultivators for increasing and fostering production of local genetic varieties of rice and other traditional cultivars. In places where swidden practices have become irreversibly unsustainable, specific strategies should be developed in close coordination with local communities, rather than imposing top-down technical solutions and enforcing legal persecution.

In other words, upland farming strategies should be evaluated through an integrated and interactive long-term process of research and development in close partnership with local upland farmers. This process should identify Indigenous best farming practices, taking care to understand them and the contexts in which they are used. Meanwhile, in the short term, it would wise if journalists and their ‘zealous’ conservationist allies refrain from publishing images that uncritically depict upland dwellers as ‘environmental criminals’, putting the blame of deforestation on those who suffers from it most.

Philippines: The NED, the NGOs and the CIA

Manila Standard Today

April 12 (Part 1) , April 26 (Part 2)

By Rod Kapunan




Part One

William Blum, the author of the book, “Rogue State,”  said that while the object of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in the post Cold War era has  been relegated to history, many  are not inclined to believe that subversion has lost its relevance.  Rather, it has only been redirected at overthrowing governments that refuse to tow the line gleaned from the  NED’s slogan of “Supporting Freedom Around the World.”

Here in the Philippines, the so-called restoration  of freedom saw the popping out like mushrooms of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with the newly-created CIA front called “NED” leading in guiding the government it  installed to power.   The CIA too had to shed off some of its  covert activities by making itself “transparent.”   Through the NED, local NGOs openly collaborated with the government it held by the noose, with each having a specialized task to “motivate” people in the various sectors of civil society.

As Blum observed:  “In a multitude of ways, NED meddles in the internal affairs of foreign countries by supplying funds, technical know-how, training, educational materials, computers, fax machines, copiers, automobiles and so on, to selected political groups, civic organizations, labor unions, dissident movements, student groups, book publishers, newspapers, other media, etc. NED programs generally impart the basic philosophy that working people and other citizens are best served under a system of free enterprise, class cooperation, collective bargaining, minimal government intervention in the economy and opposition to socialism in any shape or form. A free market economy is equated with democracy, reform and growth, and the merits of foreign investment are emphasized.”

Philippines Typhoon Disaster: The Right Place to Send Your Urgently Needed Donation

WKOG Admin: We stand by the work of Filipino Tin Alvarez. Alvarez is fully informed about the NGO-industrial-complex machinations. She will not advocate, nor work for, any org that’s not about grassroots and direct assistance for the people in The Philippines.

“I am disappointed and hurt. This is the climate crisis we have been talking/posting about. It is day 7 today. The Philippines is all over the news. Children here and abroad are turning over their piggy banks to government agencies and to the big NGOs we rightfully criticize for the big compensation their executives receive, for their lack of transparency, for their way of doing things, etc. So please, Do something.” – November 14, 2013, Activist Tin Alvarez, The Philippines



November 13, 2013

A message from the coordinator of the relief efforts on the ground:

“I am coordinating with anarchists in Bacolod (central Philippines) who are already on the ground, doing relief work. Project Bulig is the name of the relief drive. The guys I’m in touch with are friends of friends, and we’ve already talked about working together.

Right now, I am anticipating in-kind/cash donations from my activist/ advocate friends in the US, Canada, and Europe. In-kind donations can be sent to my address, which I can give you in private. A comrade has been able to secure a warehouse for storage and repacking, but right now, your best bet would be my address, as I am not sure my contacts in Bacolod have room to spare for these goods.

Part of the cash donations will go to local animal welfare groups which are working with animal casualties. As expected, the Philippine government, the Philippine Red Cross, and all mainstream aid agencies, charities, and foundations have ignored non-human casualties. As a feminist and an advocate of social justice, I believe that non-human lives are not expendable, so it is only appropriate that their needs also be met”.

contact info Tin Alvarez:

As we stated in our previous post, Occupy Philippines is now accepting and would humbly ask for donations to help the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda. We ask for medicines, food, bottled water, blankets, towels, and animal food. In addition, we would also like to ask for used tarpaulins to make use for a makeshift shelter.

If you would like to donate, please course the donations through JOSYN PALMA, one of our admins. Shipping address:

470 Legaspi St cor Eusebio St,
Manggahan, Pasig City
Metro Manila

For international monetary donations, please PM TIN ALVAREZ for details. We cannot post the bank account details as this will be going to a bank account under her name set up for this cause. Occupy Philippines unfortunately does not qualify for a separate bank account as it is neither a set non-profit organization, charity, or company. We hope for your kind understanding.

Please inform us if you will be sending donations so we can better coordinate, and so we know who to thank and what to expect.

There will be no expiration date for donations. We will take part in the relief effort to help our brothers and sisters in West and Central Visayas– Leyte, Antique, Samar, Eastern Samar, Cebu, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Capiz, Aklan– but we intend to be there for the recovery. Due to this, we ask for your help and your support. Thank you so much, friends.

There is no excuse not to help: Pre-schooler Donates Piggybank Savings For Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ Victims

Further Reading: The Truth About the Red Cross:


Open Eyes


By Jay Taber

Jul 24, 2012

Intercontinental Cry

Seducing as photo ops with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at summer camps funded by convicted inside trader George Soros might be, the idea of young missionaries sowing seeds of democracy along side CIA operatives might seem a little bit silly. Yet, missionaries worldwide — desperate for a chance to do something important and worthwhile with their lives — enroll in programs choreographed to provide cover for covert ops conducted by the NSA and CIA aimed at overthrowing governments and undercutting democratic movements that don’t heel to Wall Street and the Pentagon.

While U.S. agencies with names like USAID, United States Institute of Peace, and National Endowment for Democracy woo the innocent with t-shirts, flags and exotic trips abroad, the fact is they are about as likely to foment democratic revolutions as other American teenagers in helicopter gunships mowing down civilians in the streets of Baghdad. At least the Peace Corps didn’t act like toy Che brigades.

I only saw one CIA-sponsored NGO live, and that was at the 2003 anti-war demonstration in San Francisco’s UN Plaza. With tens of thousands filling the streets converging on the plaza to protest the imminent invasion of Iraq, the small contingent on the edge of the plaza holding expensive pro-war signs, and using amplified noisemakers in order to disrupt peace presenters on stage, was clearly not a genuine grassroots group.

In the Wrong Kind of Green article on fake revolutions in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, we learn how Wall Street think tanks merge seamlessly with US Government front groups to create the spectacular illusions of rainbow revolutions and Arab Spring. With funding from the CIA, NED, Soros’ Open Society Institute, and the Ford Foundation, the toy Che brigades have become instrumental in whitewashing Wall Street’s dirty deeds around the globe.

This reality may be hard for American liberals to swallow, but better this bitter pill than raising the specter of another blowback like 9/11. What goes around comes around.

For Americans who want to exercise their responsibilities as citizens or as human beings, there really are very few opportunities to do so effectively without taking enormous risks way out of proportion to what they are capable of handling. You see them repeatedly attempting to assuage their frustrations with this state of affairs by donating money to philanthropies, but the sad truth is that these are merely another form of chaneling dissent controlled by the individuals and institutions that cause all the problems in the first place.

Giving to MoveOn or becoming a Soros baby is an act of acquiescing to this brutal system; trying to actually change that system makes one an outsider–marginalized to the land of no resources.

Until a sufficient number recognize the charade for what it is, and begin helping and funding resistance rather than reform, nothing substantive will change. There are those willing to take large risks, but they cannot endure without backing from those who lack the courage.

Fortunately, it isn’t all that difficult to find them once one realizes that mainstream philanthropy is a farce. The real fighters are the ones demonized by the market and the media daily; I could probably pick up any local newspaper and tell you where your money would be well-spent and where it would just go down the drain.

In the old days of the CIA and National Security Agency (NSA), official US Government organizations were more candid about overthrowing governments that did not succumb to domination by US corporate or military misadventures. Then Wikileaks happened upon US State Department cables and our view of international diplomacy changed forever.

Today, CIA-sponsored rainbow revolutions — financed by National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) — use puppet NGOs to destabilize non-compliant foreign regimes. Thanks to whistle-blowers and Wikileaks, we now know how US embassy diplomatic pouches are used to smuggle currency to these Trojan horses.

In an ironic twist of fate, we also get a glimpse of how the US State Department strategically undermines the world indigenous peoples’ movement and human rights in general. To put it mildly, it isn’t a pretty picture.

Reading the December 2010 IPS report on COP 16, I was reminded of earlier conferences, where the European forces of globalization divided up other peoples’ lands by international agreement. Not having transcripts from those 16th-19th century proceedings, I can only imagine the invocation of church, state and market interests that combined in setting forth those self-congratulatory plans.

Watching the privileged and powerful at the climate change talks in Cancun, religious bigotry took a back seat to state and market propaganda, but the contempt for indigenous peoples and their sense of the sacred was front and center. With only the state of Bolivia dissenting from the state and market narrative, the concept of saving the planet or extending human rights through this international forum was trampled by hoards of self-congratulatory bureaucrats and career activists whose funding depends on maintaining this progressive hoax.

While expecting such behavior from craven opportunists like BINGO delegates, I was surprised to see progressive media falling so quickly into line. Perhaps they were simply playing up to their social milieu; maybe they were hoping to get a NED grant for covering the back of US Secretary of State Clinton. Whatever the reason, it was a sorry display of lackey journalism; my only response is that if they’re not with us, then they’re against us.

Even the Mother Jones article on Cancun read like a press release from the US State Department. After successfully undermining Kyoto and setting the stage for the REDD Ponzi scheme, the only task left in the climate charade was to marginalize the indigenous nations whose lands are to be recolonized. With all the current notoriety from Cablegate, I’m sure that Secretary Clinton appreciated the progressive media support.

Back in 2006, an article in En Camino observed,

Though democracy is often conceived of as a political form based on popular sovereignty and participation, its most commonly understood meaning is a thoroughly streamlined version–a system in which a small elite rules by confining mass participation to leadership choice in controlled elections.

Polyarchies —  a form of restricted democracy that accommodates capitalist principles in otherwise threatening contexts — permitted the US to make a relatively smooth transition from supporting dictatorships in the Philippines and Nicaragua, for example, to supporting democratization movements in those same countries. As it turns out, limited “democracy” often serves US interests more effectively than authoritarianism.

In the Philippines and Nicaragua, the US began financing ostensibly pro-democracy groups, facilitating their rise to positions of power out of proportion to their numbers or the strength of their ideas, within broader democratization movements. Selected Philippine and Nicaraguan NGOs and political parties received financing (direct and indirect) from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and sister organizations that allowed them to create a much higher profile than their left-wing competitors.

When the dictatorships ended, these pro-US elite groups were well-placed to take power, as the examples of Corazon Aquino (Philippines) and Violeta Chamorro (Nicaragua) illustrate. The replacement of dictatorships in Latin America with polyarchies brought with it the widespread implementation of neoliberal economic reforms.

Americans, as we see time and time again, are incredibly naive about world politics. By and large, they accept government propaganda, no matter how absurd. They bought the Cold War script, the drug war script, and the War on Terror script, mostly without a second thought. They even bought the Hope and Change script, electing a Wall Street toady to fight as their champion against the powers that be.

Apparently, American gullibility knows no bounds. As evidenced by the popularity of the color-coded revolutions myth, they enthusiastically embrace the notion that a few thousand people armed with nothing but iphones can topple dictators, replacing them with authentic democracies due solely to their sincerity and good wishes.

Of course, power vacuums are filled by those who are prepared, not to mention connected. And when you’re talking about reorganizing a society of tens or hundreds of millions of people, those connections — be they economic, religious, or military — count. How many times have we seen righteous indignation betrayed by notorious factions in cahoots with the IMF, World Bank, or CIA?

Whatever one might think about Egypt’s Mubarak or other dictators who’ve fallen out of favor with the US and the EU, popular uprisings have political backgrounds, social context, and often unintended consequences. And when you’re talking about regime change within totalitarian states, there is always a back story of international intrigue, as well as conspiracies to seize power.

In other words, things are never what they seem, especially if one’s sources of information are the governments of intervening world powers, or the corporate media that does their bidding.

To state it bluntly, when the U.S. government and the former colonial powers of Western Europe decide to abandon dictators and proxy governments, they have to fabricate a narrative that conceals their sordid past, as well as reveals disingenuous outlines of their desired future. Both require distortion of the present. In the case of Egypt, that distortion is aided by not asking key questions.

Writing at Cyrano’s Journal a year ago, Jared Israel examined the media narrative of the insurrection in Egypt, what it does and doesn’t tell us, and how it is even contrived to fit a preconceived pattern. Patterns exist, but in order to see them, one has to open one’s eyes.

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, an author, a correspondent to Fourth World Eye, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project.]

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