Duterte: Gov’t OK to lose than face farmers’ ire
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY— President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said a situation whereby government loses billions in palay buy-and-sell operations was more acceptable than dealing with social unrest by the country’s rice farmers.
Speaking during the inauguration of the 105-megawatt coal-fired power plant of Sarangani Energy Corp., Duterte said that government had to buy palay at a price that satisfies farmers as a way of “buying social unrest.”
Duterte disclosed that he has been advised by the Cabinet about the potential financial loses this would entail.
“So who bears the burden? The Filipino people. We lose. Yes, we lose. How many billions? Five, six, seven billions. So what? It’s our money. It’s our money,” he pointed out.
“And we are, I said, buying social unrest. It’s more expensive to deal with, especially if these guys would join the NPA (New People’s Army),” he added.
Flood of imported rice
The National Food Authority currently buys palay at P19 per kilo, a price that is way above market rate but still does not sit well with farmers.
The price of local palay has been depressed due to the flood of cheap imported rice when the rice tarrification law took effect.
“I care about the people… That’s what I told the Cabinet. You buy social unrest that would accompany if there is really something of a—their products, their produce, their sweat. If you don’t pay [at that price then] they are in perpetual agony of debt,” Duterte said.
He said this practice of providing a higher support price should be made mandatory at the farm gates so that farmers could “have money to give to the creditors.”
“But then allow them a leeway of comfort in life,” Duterte added.
“And I said to [Agriculture Sec. William] Dar, you have to buy it. Even if priced a little higher,” he said.
He explained that due to climate change, local rice production could not be depended upon to supply the country’s requirements.
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