Isko Moreno eyes ‘Filipino farmers first’ policy; to limit agri products importation
Talavera, Nueva Ecija — If he wins the presidency, Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said he intends to limit the importation of agricultural products to protect local farmers.
During a town hall meeting in this town’s Barangay Sibul on Wednesday, Moreno warned that the days of vegetable smugglers are numbered as he assured farmers that they have an ally in him.
The Aksyon Demokratiko team was in this province and had a dialog with around 2,000 vegetable farmers and members of the transport sector as part of their “Listening Tour.”
“Sa lahat ng mga maggu-gulay, bilang na ang araw ng mga smuggler ng gulay sa Pilipinas. Pagdating ng araw, yang mga imported na sibuyas at bawang na ‘yan, imported na gulay, sisikip na ang mundo nila (smugglers) sa akin. Pag sinuwerte tayo, panatag na ang mga magsasaka dahil may kakampi na sila sa gobyerno,” Moreno said in front of cheering vegetable farmers.
Moreno deplored the sad plight of vegetable farmers especially during times when they are forced to let their produce such as tomatoes and carrots rot in the open fields because of low prices.
“Mas mahal pa ang pag-transport sa palengke ng mga bagsak presyong gulay,” he said.
Moreno also vowed to limit the importation of rice “for purposes of reserve” which will be used only during times of calamities. The rest, he said, should be bought locally. “The normal is just one-month reserve. ‘Yung produkto niyo ang dapat bilhin ng tao,” he said.
“’Pag bumili sa Vietnam, bumili sa Thailand, sino ang kumikita? Bakit hindi ikaw na lang ang kumita, Pilipino ka. Bumili na lang sa Pilipino,” Moreno said reiterating his earlier call that the government should prioritize buying the palay of local farmers.
If he becomes president, Moreno said he will issue clear guidelines about the strict importation of pork and chicken, making sure that local hog and chicken raisers can sell their products first before importation is made.
“Producer naman tayo. The entire Luzon is producing meat. Ang gagawin natin ay sa latter part ng taon mag-import as augmentation when there is a big demand for chicken and pork. We will do the same with the importation of rice. We should prioritize our farmers. Filipino farmers first,” he said.
Moreno admitted though that he could not resolve all the problems besetting the agriculture sector but he will do his best to ease the plight of Filipino farmers in his own little way.
“When I declared my candidacy, may binitiwan akong salita: maibsan ko man lamang ang dinaranas ninyong hirap. Maaring di ko kayang resolbahin ng buo pero mapagaan man lamang ang katayuan ninyo,” he said.
Moreno said he would institute policies that would cut the cost of food production to make it more sustainable and ensure food security for the country.
Moreno said one of the first things his government would introduce under his proposed “Buhay at Kabuhayan” program is to cut taxes on oil and electricity by 50 percent which, among others, would bring down the cost of food production, especially rice, raise the income of farmers and fisherfolk, bring down the prices of basic commodities and sustain food production.
Agriculture is one of the major users of petroleum products, he noted. Farmers are heavily dependent on oil products for fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides to achieve high crop yields while fisherfolks are also reliant on petroleum for their motorized boats, he added.
Petroleum is also a key source of energy for transportation and power generation, Moreno also said. While the government may lose around P130 billion in revenues due to the proposed tax cuts, Moreno nevertheless explained that the same amount will immediately benefit the people in terms of savings which would subsequently return to government as people spend more due to their stronger purchasing power.
“Kapag ang P130 billion ay hawak ng tao, ang laking ginhawa sa nanay, sa tatay, sa driver, sa negosyante, ang malaking ginhawa sa farmers. Hopefully in the next two to three years, lumaki naman ang inyong kita,” said Moreno.
In his earlier dialogs with farmers in Tarlac and Oriental Mindoro, Moreno vowed to build cold storage facilities for agricultural products in all provinces and regions in the country as part of his food security policy.
Moreno pointed out that cold chain facilities can also be used in storing other agricultural and marine products such as chicken, pork, vegetables, and fish.
Moreno said establishing cold storage facilities in all provinces would ensure that farmers, fishermen, and hog and chicken producers could stock their perishable produce or surplus products so that they can sell them later at the right price.
“Investment in agriculture, including post-harvest facilities, should be long-term. The next government should focus its resources in ensuring food security in our own country because we cannot have the same pandemic at aasa tayo na padadalhan ng bigas ng ating mga inaangkatan ng bigas,” he pointed out.
The Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer moreover explained that he can readily use the warehouses of the National Food Authority, which are situated in spacious government lands, that are idle and can be tapped anytime.
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