ROSALES, Pangasinan – For the first time in more than 20 years, major stakeholders in the country’s agriculture sector formed a united front denouncing rampant smuggling and what they called as “unlawful entry” of a Thai food company that had been granted tax exemptions and other perks.
Rosendo So, director of the Swine Development Council, said 25 national agricultural leaders, farmers and representatives of allied industries signed a resolution that warned about the death of Philippine agriculture because of government policies that would hurt local food producers.
“The move of the industry leaders is unprecedented in the past two decades. This is the first time that such a big group came together to denounce the unabated smuggling of meat and other agricultural products, as well as the tax perks extended to Thai conglomerate, Charoen Pokphand Foods (CP Foods),” said So, also chair of the party-list group Abono.
He said industry leaders welcomed the support of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and several lawmakers for their campaign to protect local farmers and hog and poultry raisers.
The resolution was adopted during the 6th Multisectoral Agriculture Summit held in Metro Manila early this month. The summit discussed the impact of CP Foods on food production and retail.
The Board of Investments (BOI) granted the Thai firm a pioneering investment status, which would allow the foreign company to enjoy a six-year tax holiday along with import incentives for corn and other raw feed materials.
“The BOI move favoring CP Foods undermines our sovereignty and food security. It will also result in the loss of employment for millions of Filipinos as the agricultural sector employs 33 percent of the entire Philippine labor force,” the resolution read.
“The BOI’s grant of preferential treatment to [CP Foods] reveals the national government’s incoherent policy direction on agriculture,” it said.
The resolution was submitted to Malacañang on January 18.
“We are hopeful that the President would take action,” said So.
Aside from So, among those who signed the resolution were Agap Representative Nicanor M. Briones, Durian Tan and Alfredo Dy of Swine Development Council; Daniel Javellana Jr., chair of National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc.; Edwin Chen, head of Pork Producers Federations of the Phils. Inc.; former Pangasinan Rep. Mark O. Cojuangco, Agham Rep. Angelo B. Palmones, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro A. Casiño, Eduardo So, head of Mindanao Alliance of Pork.
Jesus Aranza, head of Federation of Philippines Industries Inc.; Javier P. Mateo, head of Philippine Veterinary Drug Association Inc.; lawyer Jose Elias Inciong, head of United Broiler Raisers Association; Gregorio San Diego Jr., head of Philippine Egg Board; Jayson H. Cainglet, head of Agri-Business Action Initiatives.
Norman C. Ramos, head of Philippine Association of Feed Millers Inc.; Wilfredo Resoso, head of Philippine College of Swine Practitioners; Arturo Alejar Jr., head of Crop Protection Association of the Philippines; Napoleon Co, head of Association of Aqua Feed Millers Inc.; Joji Co, head of Philippine Confederation of Grains Association. Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon