Press Release | Monoculture, Monopoly, Monarchy, Marcos

September 22, 2023

by MASIPAG National Office

MASIPAG is one with the Filipino people in commemorating the 51st anniversary of Martial Law. From 1973 up to the ousting of Marcos Sr. in 1986, Martial Law gravely reoriented the entire trajectory of our country making it as economically and agriculturally unsustainable today. Against historical revisionism that aims to deodorize its myriad of crimes against the Filipino people, MASIPAG once again registers the legacy of tyranny that Marcos Sr. inflicted on our agriculture and the ills that his son Marcos Jr. seeks to continue today.

Monoculture
Beyond the state-perpetrated violence against the Filipino people during Martial Law, the nation was subjected to dangerous food and agricultural programs. Just a year after Marcos’ declaration, Masagana 99 was institutionalized and it spearheaded the trend of monoculture farming in rice. Empowered by the overflowing impunity of Martial Law, extension agents of the Masagana program reportedly collected and burned the country’s traditional rice varieties already planted in the farms of Filipino farmers and forced them to plant the highly chemical-dependent miracle rice or IR8 of IRRI.   Backed by the overwhelming violence of martial law towards the Filipino farmers, the poisonous seeds of Masagana 99 covered almost the entire rice area of the country promoting a trend of monoculture farming eventually destroying not only our environment but also the entire rice industry because of its unsustainability. 

Monopoly 

There was a concentration of agricultural land in the hands of a few wealthy individuals and corporations, often with ties to the government. This land monopoly limited access to land for small-scale farmers, resulting in landlessness and reduced opportunities for rural livelihoods. The regime’s economic policies allowed for the creation of monopolies and oligopolies in various sectors, including agriculture. A few powerful entities controlled the production, distribution, and pricing of agricultural products, which disadvantaged small farmers who had limited bargaining power.

Monarchy 

The Marcos regime was characterized by authoritarian rule, with Ferdinand Marcos wielding significant power and control over the government and its institutions. This centralized authority could stifle local initiatives and community-driven agricultural development efforts. This concentration of power also contributed to a lack of accountability in government. This allowed corruption and mismanagement to thrive, with funds allocated for agricultural development often being diverted for personal and political gain instead.

The Marcos regime’s monopoly on power, monoculture, and almost monarchical rule had a profound and lasting impact on Philippine agriculture. It widened the gap between rich and poor, stifled rural development, worsened environmental problems, and made the agricultural sector vulnerable to external economic shocks. This experience highlights the importance of inclusive and sustainable agricultural policies that put the needs of small-scale farmers and the broader agricultural community first.

As Marcos Jr. sits in office and adamantly refuses to apologize for the negative legacy of his father, the wounds of the past continue to fester, leaving unresolved issues of human rights abuses, corruption, and political repression unaddressed. Worse, Marcos Jr. himself is in full set to revive the Masagana program of his late father, already willfully ignorant to the painful lessons that it demonstrated in the past. This refusal to acknowledge and take responsibility for the actions of the past also raises questions about the commitment to genuine reconciliation, justice, and meaningful progress in the Philippines. It underscores the need for a transparent and accountable government that prioritizes the well-being and rights of all its citizens, while also learning from history to ensure a better future for the nation. Likewise, the urgent need to reclaim Philippine agriculture from its corporate collaborators back to the Filipino farmers.