Robredo vows major focus on plight of farmers, fishers
SUMILAO, BUKIDNON—-Some 14 years ago, Eljin Orquillas, then 21, and 54 other farmers from San Vicente village in this town, walked 1,700 kilometers to Metro Manila to dramatize their cause of claiming the land they and their forebears have been tilling.
Gathering wide public support, the farmers were able to win 144 hectares of land already owned by San Miguel Foods, Inc.
Through cooperative farming, and various assistance from government and nongovernment agencies, the farmers were able to improve their economic lot.
Orquillas, now chair of Panaw Sumilao Multipurpose Cooperative, said they wanted farmers in other parts of the country to also enjoy a similar experience, if only the government continues to push forward with agrarian reform.
On Wednesday, the Sumilao farmers hosted the visit of Vice President Leni Robredo, who inked a ‘Pledge for Farmers and Fisherfolks’ which, she said, would top her policy agenda if she wins the presidency.
The pledge included a commitment to streamline the processes leading to the distribution of some 500,000 hectares of land that are still covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
Robredo, who wore a pair of slippers during the event, said that with no-nonsense government support, replicating the success story of the Sumilao farmers throughout the country is not an impossible task.
Robredo also vowed to amend the Rice Tarrification Law that has the effect of flooding the country with imported rice, which continue to be sold at high prices, while the buying price of palay remains depressed amid rising cost of fertilizers.
Palay is bought at P12 to P14 per kilo in most rice-producing provinces in Mindanao.
Robredo also emphasized the need to ensure that coconut farmers have a greater voice in the management of the coco levy funds.
During the Vice President’s sortie in this town, she was joined by Sumilao mayor Jose Villo, Talakag mayor Vergito Factura, and Bukidnon Rep. Malou Acosta.