MALOLOS CITY (May 24, '11)—Malacanang’s deferment of fuel subsidy for farmers and fisherfolk drew varied reactions from Bulacan farmer.
Some even proposed drastic actions like staging street protests, and planting crops just enough for their families.
But cooler heads advised to ask local congressional representatives in their behalf before staging protests; while others warned that planting crops just enough for farmers’ families will encourage the government to import more agricultural products and smuggling.
Still, others noted that fuel subsidy is the least that the government can give to farmers and fisherfolk saying that they also need subsidy for seeds, marketing and even further promotion of organic farming.
“Nalulungkot kami sa pagbawi ng subsidy para magsasaka, samantalang kami ang may pinakamahalagang role na ginagampanan sa lipunan,” said Roger Apostol, the vice chair of the Provincial Agriculture and Fisheries Council (PAFC) of Bulacan.
He said, “mula sa pinakahamak na pamilya hanggang sa pinakamayaman, nakadepende sa produksyon ng magsasaka ang pagkain, pero ayaw kaming bigyan ng subsidy ngayon.”
Apostol also question the wisdom in giving fuel subsidy to the transport sector, while deferring what was promised to them.
“Imagine, yung mga drivers, pag namasada sa umaga, sa hapon may kita na; kaming magsasaka, apat na buwang nagtatanim ng palay saka pa lang kikita, ang pinakamabilis naming maitanim at anihin ay pechay, pero isang buwan yon bago kami mag-ani,” he said.
Apostol called on government for balance treatment of the transport and agriculture sector saying, “kung yung mga driver ay binibigyan ng subsidy, dapat kaming magsasaka ay bigyan din.”
When asked for possible move after the government deferred giving them subsidy, he said they are planning to submit a resolution to local congressional representatives to intervene for them.
For Melencio Domingo, the chair of the Malolos City Agriculture and FisheriesCouncil (MCAFC), drastic actions like streets protests is needed to wake up the government.
He said, “pinaasa lang nila kami kaya ang payo ko ay mag-rally na kami.”
Domingo also said that other farmers like Roger Macasu of San Miguel town proposed that they plant crops enough for their families consumption.
However, other farmer leaders prevailed saying that Macasu’s proposal will encourage importation of agricultural products, and even smuggling.
With regards to President Aquino’s statement on the lack of inventory of farmer’s numbers, Domingo said farmer leaders in the province submitted a master list to agriculture offices in towns, cities, provinces and in the regions.
“Ang nakapagtataka, hindi nila kami kinikilala, nakapagsubmit na kami ng masterlist. Ngayon, tiyak na kami ang sisihin ng mga magsasaka,” he said.
For her part, Liza Sacdalan of the Central Luzon Organic Rice Producers Association (Clorpa) said that fuel subsidy is noting but a consolation to farmers, and there other subsidies that the government must provide for them.
“Konsuelo de bobo lang, hindi naman ganoon kadamia ng bibigyan ng fuel subsidy, ang dapat nilang tingnan ay ibang areas of concern na pwede nilang tulungan ang farmers,” she said.
Sacdalan stressed that need subsidy on certified seeds, fertilizers, irrigation and marketing of farm produce.
However, as leader of an organization of organic farmers, she said they don’t need subsidy on certified seeds.
“We are producing our own seeds, ang kailangan namin ay ayuda ng gobyerno sa pagpapaunlad ng organic agriculture,” Sacdalan said.
She also expressed concerned over proposals in the House of Representatives with regards to raising dues for farmers’ irrigation.
She also raised concerned over government subsidy on palay procurement price of P17 per kilo.
Sacdalan said not everybody is getting P17 per kilo procurement from the National Food Authority (NFA) and added that the grains agency cannot buy all palahy produced by farmers due to importation.
“Kapag tuyo lang ang palay saka binabayaran ng NFA ng P17 per kilo, pero pag hindi, P8 lang kung minsan ang ibinbayad ng traders,” she said.
On Tuesday, Malacanang deferred the implementation of fuel subsidy for farmers and fisherfolk, citing the lack of inventory on their real numbers.
This came after the President announced last May 1 the P4.23-billion rice subsidy the government would provide to farmers and fisherfolk, on top of the P2-billion farm inputs that are already in the pipeline.
However, report said that only the rice subsidy pushed through.