By DAWN CECILIA PEÑA
MANILA – A farmers group has presented what it said are doable programs for the country’s agriculture sector in the first 100 days in office of the Marcos Jr. administration.
“The points touch on measures which require immediate attention and legislation from the Marcos Jr. administration, especially as he is the concurrent agriculture secretary,” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said in a statement.
President Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the late dictator Marcos Sr., temporarily took the agriculture cabinet post, acknowledging that the problems plaguing the said sector is “severe enough.” He added that he plans to rebuild the value chain of agriculture and that he is taking the portfolio to further stress that he would be putting a high priority on the agricultural sector.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said that “if Marcos Jr. has the political will and determination to put action into his words then he must consider these proposed doables.”
- Issue an Executive Order (EO) against the conversion of agricultural lands devoted to or suitable for the production of staple food crops.
- Resolve long-standing agrarian disputes such as in Hacienda Tinang in Tarlac, Araneta Estate in Bulacan, Lupang Ramos in Cavite, Dumarao Stockfarm in Panay, and Concepcion Grande in Bicol.
- Stop the policy of food import dependency. Revoke Executive Orders 134 and 135, also known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, which have further reduced the rates of import duties on rice and fresh, chilled, or frozen meat of swine.Revoke fish import permits. Review and Amend RA 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.
- Suspend the implementation of R.A. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law/Rice Liberalization Law.
- Immediately suspend excise tax on oil products.
- Certify as urgent food self-sufficiency bills: Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, proposed Rice Industry Development Act, and the Fertilizer Subsidy Program.
- Certify as urgent a comprehensive economic stimulus that will provide P10,000 cash aid and P15,000 production subsidy for farmers, fishers, and agricultural workers.
- Appoint genuine farmer-representatives in the management and utilization of coconut levy funds and assets. Cooperate with a people’s oversight mechanism on the use of coconut levy funds and assets.
- Return the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies. Pay the P203.8 billion unpaid estate taxes of the Marcoses.
- Allocate at least 10-percent of the national budget to agriculture and food production. This is the GDP share of agriculture in the national economy.
- Scrap the permits for genetically-modified Golden Rice. Fully implement with adequate funding the Organic Agriculture Act (R.A. 10068, as amended by R.A. 11511).
- Repeal Executive Order 130 on mining.
This 12-point proposal comes after weeks of incessant oil price hikes jacking up food prices, transport costs, and an inflation rate of 6.1 percent, the highest in three years. Marcos Jr. disagreed with the said report, saying it might not be that high.
“Marcos Jr. ‘s disbelief at the rising inflation rate shows his nonchalant attitude and extreme disconnect with the hardship experienced by Filipinos. His life of opulence is far from what ordinary hand-to-mouth Filipinos go through,” KMP Chairman Emeritus Rafael Mariano said.
According to a report published by the Philippine Statistics Authority, prices of food increased by six percent, from 4.9 percent in May. Transport costs grew by 17.1 percent compared to 14.6 percent in the previous month.
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Marcos Jr.’ s Medium-Term Fiscal Plan targets an average annual growth rate of 6.5 percent to eight percent and a poverty incidence of nine percent. However, KMP said that, “An ambitious six-year fiscal plan will be nothing if it will not decisively address the economic crisis and dwindling livelihood of Filipinos.” (JJE, RVO )