MANILA, Philippines – Presidential candidates emphasized the need to grow the agriculture sector and support small businesses to revive the pandemic-stricken economy at a faster rate.
In the PiliPinas debate organized by the Commission on Elections on Saturday, March 19, candidates were asked which sector they would prioritize to speed up economic recovery.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said the government should prioritize food security, invest in post-harvest facilities, and look into the high prices of fertilizer.
“Mga kababayan, ang pinaka-importanteng ekonomiya ay ang ekonomiya ng sikmura. Pagkain sa bawat pamilyang Pilipino dahil itong pandemyang ito ay nagbukas sa ating kaisipan na hindi tayo puwedeng umasa nang umasa na lamang sa mga imported products na kaya namang i-produce ng ating mangingisda, maghahayop, at nagtatanim nating mga kababayan sa sektor ng agrikultura,” Moreno said.
(My countrymen, the most important kind of economics is economics of the stomach. Food for every Filipino, since this pandemic made us realize that we should not be dependent on imported products that fisherfolk, livestock raisers, and farmers in our agriculture sector can produce.)
Leody de Guzman
Labor leader Leody de Guzman also stressed the need to focus on agriculture.
He proposed the abolition of the rice tariffication law implemented during the Duterte administration.
Should he be elected, added De Guzman, he would grow the country’s manufacturing sector.
Senator Manny Pacquiao brought up the need to attract investors and support micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
“Papautangin po natin ‘yung mga maliliit na negosyante nang 0% interest po para makapag-put up sila, makapag-start sila ng business nila nang mabigyan ng trabaho ang milyon-milyong mga Pilipino,” Pacquiao said.
(We will lend to small business owners at 0% interest so that they can put up, start a business and give jobs to millions of Filipinos.)
Vice President Leni Robredo pointed out that 99.5% of businesses in the Philippines are MSMEs, generating 5.7 million jobs. Thousands of businesses shut down due to the pandemic.
Robredo proposed a P100-billion stimulus package for MSMEs, to be used for conditional cash grants and low interest loans.
Senator Panfilo Lacson also emphasized the need to support MSMEs, noting that some 400,000 jobs were lost during the pandemic.
Lacson proposed a comprehensive and targeted stimulus package to aid struggling MSMEs.
He also said the 2022 budget has allocations for loan facilities for farmers and small businesses. – Rappler.com