DAR to regional directors: Issue checkpoint passes for farmers, commodities
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has ordered its regional directors to coordinate with the Department of Agriculture (DA) in issuing food passes for farmers and ensure the smooth movement of goods amid the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
The move is aimed at helping agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) pass through checkpoints easily and deliver farm produce and other agricultural commodities to various areas. The DAR is also seeking authority to give ARB Organizations food passes, according to Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones.
“We are pursuing this move to assist in food sufficiency and help the farmers survive COVID-19 by assisting them on how to sell their agricultural products,” Castriciones said.
In coordination with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), Castriciones said the DA regional directors will issue food passes to their respective areas of jurisdiction, which can also be done online.
The DA and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) have meanwhile coordinated to ensure the “unhampered movement” of agri-fishery products and personnel by pushing to amend checkpoint protocols. The DA has issued 48,000 food passes throughout the country, as of writing.
Other than food passes, the government’s Foodlane Project accredits suppliers and truckers of agri-fishery products to be given incentives including truck ban exemption, ease of passage in checkpoints, the designation of food lane routes in Metro Manila and other regions and immediate assistance during product deliveries.
Local government units, especially municipalities and barangays, have reportedly been disobeying Malacañang’s order to allow the free-flow of food and non-food essentials amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
For one, some barangays in Nueva Ecija have forbidden farmers to go to their farms, while in Masbate, Governor Antonio Kho prohibited the entry of around 40 trucks and other drivers coming from Metro Manila, rendering them stranded at the port for a week now.
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