5 presidential bets vow to prioritize agri production
MANILA, Philippines — Five presidential candidates vowed on Sunday to prioritize the production of agricultural products so that the country can achieve food security.
Sen, Manny Pacquiao, cardiologist and lawyer Jose Montemayor Jr., and businessman Faisal Mangondato talked about their platforms to address food shortage during the group discussion segment of the second presidential debate hosted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and labor leader Leody de Guzman shared their proposed solutions during the portion for rebuttal and comments.
For Pacquiao, the government should focus on production, distribution, and consumption — what he calls “PDC” — to prevent a food shortage.
He lamented that the government would not focus on local production and would want to import products from other countries. He pointed out that the livelihood of farmers and fisherfolk were suffering due to excessive importation.
“It is embarrassing if we just keep importing. That’s part of what I was explaining — the four elements of GDP. The fourth element is the net export,” he said, speaking in Filipino.
“When we say net export, we export more products than what we import. We just import because we have agreements with other countries, but we don’t really need the products we import,” he added.
Montemayor, meanwhile, also pointed out the need to strengthen the local agriculture sector.
He said that under his administration, “we will go back to our core competence before” in industry.
Montemayor also lamented that previous administrations neglected the agriculture sector and vowed that he would “aggressively” prevent a food shortage if he should become president.
“Let’s remember that we cannot forever rely on other countries. For example, on rice, we should remove rice tariffication that places a burden on our farmers. We will be self-sufficient,” he said.
He vowed to address the impact of climate change on food security, noting that droughts, typhoons, and other natural disasters are affecting crop production.
Mangondato, for his part, likewise criticized the government for focusing on importation and not prioritizing agriculture in the national budget.
He questioned why the Philippines focuses on importation when the country is rich with water bodies and land areas.
“Agriculture should be made a priority in allocating the budget because we are an agricultural country. So our economy will become strong if our agricultural industry is strong,” he said.
During the portion for rebuttal and comments, De Guzman reiterated that the government should freeze its agreements with the World Trade Organization. He said that paved the way for the importation of onion and garlic and other products that have damaged the livelihood of Filipino farmers.
“Second, we should have a national land use [policy] so that 30 percent of the agricultural land given to miners that are now being dug up will become land for planting our food,” the labor leader said.
He agreed that the government should increase its budget to support farmers.
Moreno, meanwhile, proposed fertilizer subsidies and tax cuts on oil and energy.
“We have to subsidize the fertilizers of farmers,” he said. “Third, there should be a three-year moratorium on land conversion. Fourth and most of all, we should eliminate smuggling and limit importation.”
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