Bong Go backs DAR’s proposed budget, programs for marginalized farmers
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee and member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, expressed his support for the Department of Agrarian Reform’s (DAR) budget for fiscal year 2024 particularly its programs that can help marginalized farmers.
The support was officially noted on record by Senator Cynthia Villar in a Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing held on Thursday, October 19.
Reiterating his advocacy, Go emphasized the government’s responsibility towards prioritizing the welfare of the underprivileged especially in rural areas.
“Unahin natin ang mga mahihirap. Ibigay natin sa mga mahihirap ang lupa na dapat sa kanila at suportahan natin sila upang maging produktibo sila sa kanilang kabuhayan,” Go said.
The senator reflected on the agrarian reform accomplishments during former President Rodrigo Duterte’s tenure, where a substantial number of hectares of land were distributed to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) through the Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) distribution.
“Our government should focus on supporting our small-scale farmers because they are the ones who make our food supply possible. It’s not only about us not needing to import from other countries. It’s about recognizing and supporting our local farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries to earn a living and contribute towards food security,” said Go.
Go has been supportive of legislative efforts aimed at bolstering the agricultural sector. One of his significant contributions is the co-authorship of Republic Act No. 11901, which expanded the agriculture, fisheries, and rural development financing system.
This law, according to Go, will provide rural communities, especially farmers, fisherfolk, and agri-based workers, with better access to credit, thereby enhancing their welfare, competitiveness, and productivity.
In addition to this, Go highlighted the importance of RA 11953, or the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, signed by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. He took great pride in co-sponsoring and co-authoring the measure, marking a significant step towards empowering agrarian reform beneficiaries and fostering their economic independence, thereby steering towards enhanced food security.
“This new law will help ensure the stability of our food supply by empowering our local farmers,” said Go.
“We are not saying that our food supply will be secure simply because their loans have been written off. They need further support from the government, more agricultural input to make them more competitive,” he added.
In his quest to provide needed support to the agricultural sector, Go has also filed SBN 2117 and SBN 2118. These bills aim to provide full crop insurance coverage for agrarian reform beneficiaries and improve insurance coverage and services to farmers, respectively, helping to mitigate the impact of natural disasters on the agricultural sector, if enacted into law.
Moreover, in light of the recently ratified Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, Go underscored the importance of enhancing competitiveness and protecting local farmers and industries. He believes that the open competition resulting from RCEP should lead to a decrease in the prices of goods, benefiting ordinary Filipinos, particularly those in the agricultural sector.
“Napaka-importante na walang magutom. Sikapin nating bigyan ng karampatang suporta at proteksyon ang ating mga maliliit na magsasaka na kumakayod araw-araw para masigurong may pagkain sa hapag-kainan ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino,” said Go.