Vice President and presidential aspirant Leni Robredo on Monday, November 15, visited the Palay and Kalamansi Farmers Agriculture Cooperative in Barangay Bagong Sikat, Cabanatuan City and said she would continue extending assistance to farmers in the province of Nueva Ecija.
Robredo said her office has been in touch with the farmers group since 2017, when it arranged mechanization programs.
“Noong 2017, ni-link up natin sila sa Philmech (Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization) kasi iyong pinaka-desire nila parang magkaroon ng kalamansi processing plant na kahit maliit lang for the cooperative para iyong value added sa kanilang mga produkto ay makadagdag sa kanilang kita,” she said.
(In 2017, we linked this cooperative with Philmech, because it wanted to have a calamansi processing plant, even if just a small one. It was an added value to their product and added earnings.)
While the kalamansi farmers were able to secure a pledge from the Department of Agriculture, Robredo said the group said it still needed additional machines for their farms.
“So kami po nag-promise kami na tutulungan namin—tutulungan namin with DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), tutulungan namin with DOST (Department of Science and Technology) at saka iyong opisina namin mismo tutulong,” added Robredo.
(We promise to help you, together with the DTI and DOST and the Office of the Vice President.)
Asked about her position on the Rice Tariffication Law, the vice president said the government should “review and reassess the law” to protect farmers from the impact of import liberalization.
“Dapat binibigyan natin ng level playing field iyong ating mga local farmers na alam natin na kaya hindi sila nakakapag-kompetensya sa presyo ng mga ini-import, kasi iyong pinanggalingan na mga bansa, grabe iyong government subsidy na tinatanggap nila,” she said.
(We must help our farmers by leveling the playing. Our local farmers cannot compete against the lower-priced imports. These imports enjoy subsidies from their own governments.)
Local farmer groups in Nueva Ecija have complained of the impact of the Rice Tariffication Law, citing it as one of the factors to nosediving price of their palay produce. – Rappler.com
Paul Soriano is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.