Dispatch from Crame No. 457: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on the Wasted Farm Produce in the Cordilleras


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In a country such with substantial number of its citizens starving, to see images of vegetables being dumped on the roadside in Benguet, Northern Luzon is simply revolting. Due to oversupply and refusal of traders to buy their goods, Cordillera farmers had no choice but to throw away their unsold and rotting produce.

The onslaught of typhoon Usman that damaged roads and other infrastructures in Bicol linking Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao was the major factor why traders opted not to deal with the farmers.

Ang tanong, bakit hinayaan ng gobyerno, partikular ang Department of Agriculture (DA), na mangyari ito? May krisis nang nagaganap, natutulog pa sa pansitan.

Nasayang ang pagkain na sana ay nailaan para sa mga nagugutom at nalugi ang mga maliliit na magsasakang nangutang lang din sa gobyerno upang makapagtanim.

This string of misfortunes could have been mitigated through efficient monitoring and pro-active interventions at the first sign and during the actual crisis. For instance, the government could have stepped in by purchasing the farmers’ produce and re-distributed these to other regions.

In terms of strategy, the government should work double time to address age-old problems hindering rural development such as lack of farm-to-market roads, storage and processing facilities, and marketing support.

But instead of acknowledging these, the Duterte administration is now washing its hands of the issue with Secretary Piñol deflecting accountability. As a consolation, DA has offered P100 million to affected farmers pending “validation” that would take around two weeks, assuming beneficiaries would be able to successfully navigate the bureaucracy.

Too late, too little and a palliative step with a tinge of pa-pogi points. If this government is really sensitive to the plight of its people, heads should roll. Secretary Piñol should be made accountable.

Hindi ito ang malasakit na inaasam ng mga tao. Dapat ay pangmatagalan at maagap ang pagtugon sa mga suliranin at potensyal na mga krisis na makakaapekto sa sikmura at kabuhayan ng mamamayan lalo na yung mga nasa laylayan.

Otherwise, malasakit will simply be just another catchphrase to deceive the people. ###

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