Cagayan solon seeks return of farm subsidiesBy Tonette Orejas |Inquirer Central Luzon
CLARK FREEPORT—To ensure “food sufficiency and sovereignty,” the Philippine government should restore subsidies for the agriculture sector even if this runs counter to provisions of the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) concurred in 1996 under the World Trade Organization, United Nationalist Alliance senatorial candidate Rep. Jack Enrile said here on Friday.
“The truth is, those who impose globalization on us do not abide by it because they subsidize the agricultural sector,” he said in a press conference here.
He repeated the need to establish food sufficiency and sovereignty through food requirement plans at the national, provincial, city, town and barangay levels when he talked before the Liga ng mga Barangay of Pangasinan in a conference here also on Friday.
Enrile said the removal of subsidies for seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation has increased production costs, making Filipino farmers not competitive.
“The competition is not fair,” he said.
He said House Bill No. 4626, also known as Food for Filipinos First, which he filed in May 2011, intends to make the agriculture sector a key mover in providing food for the poor and middle classes.
This measure, he said, does not aim to replace the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act, although many components of these are “unfunded.”
In support of this, Enrile said the National Food Authority (NFA) should concentrate on trading and transfer its regulatory functions to the Department of Agriculture.
“The NFA has not done its mandate,” he said, adding that the agency should be setting floor prices at rates profitable for grain producers.
He said rice importation plus the influx of foreign grains bury farmers further in debt. Asked by the Inquirer, Enrile confirmed he is not engaged in farming but said he has a handle on the real situation because of self-study, researches, exposures and interactions with farmers and fishermen.