by RANIELLE AVERION and ALBERT JOHN ENRICO A. DOMINGUEZ
Yesterday, Former Senator and Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan gave a talk as the guest speaker of the GE Conversation with a National Leader: A Forum on Governance, Transparency, and Social Transformation lecture series.
Pangilinan reaches to Filipino farmers
Although he did not have a degree in Agriculture, he realized that “poverty is a rural phenomenon”, and that’s what brought him to start farming on his own in Alfonso, Cavite. “Hindi ko talaga maiintindihan ang problema ng mga magsasaka hangga’t hindi ako magsasaka.” He said. It’s where he spent his time after leaving the Senate in 2013.
“Ayoko na ng pulitika, magfafarming na lang ako.” He joked. He also spent three years visiting many farms around the country, having dialogues with farmers and various stakeholders.
He had his first lettuce harvest in 2012. However, he experienced devastations in his crops such as pest invasion, situations such as having a bountiful harvest but no buyers and vice versa. His two greenhouses were also devastated.
“’Dun ko nakita na mahirap ang pagsasaka, hindi biro ang sakripisyo na ginagawa ng ating mga magsasaka. The reason why our farmers became poor because there’s not enough support, not enough resources allocated so that our farmers can bounce back” he said.
In 2014, he was appointed as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization. He talked about his achievements as part of the cabinet such as disciplining the officials of the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) because of certain issues and reducing the Cocolisap – infected coconut trees.
“Anong saysay ng P30B worth of irrigation projects kung ang kinikita ng mga magsasaka ay hindi naman nagbabago. Tumaas nga ang yield pero naghihirap pa rin ang mga magsasaka. It is not sustainable. Agriculture has to be strategic.” He stated. He made sure each agency that he covers focus on the matter of increasing farmers’ income.
When asked how he sees agriculture in the future, he said that we should prioritize Filipino farmers. “We cannot hope to bring agriculture to greater heights if our farmers are neglected. [We should] secure our farmers for sustainable farming. We should put premium in our number one resource: the farmer and fisherfolk.” Pangilinan told Perspective.
Pangilinan to create bills for farmers and fisherfolks if he wins a Senate seat
Pangilinan is currently running for the senate in the upcoming 2016 National Elections under the Liberal Party list. Should he get re-elected in the senate, he plans to shift paradigms in terms of how we look at agriculture and it will begin on how we view and recognize the role of farmers and fisher folks in our country.
In an interview with the Perspective, Pangilinan want to focus on the welfare of the farmers and the fisherfolk is he wins a seat in the Senate. “I plan to author the creation of a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to ensure the strategic development of our marine resources, as well as to bolster support to our fisherfolk.”
The former senator also mentioned that he would author a bill mainly for the farmers. “I also plan to author a bill that would help farmers move away from subsistence planning to viable farming enterprises.”
“The Sagip Saka Bill of 2016, or the Farmer Entrepreneurship and Development Act of 2016 aims to create more jobs and means for additional income to help address rural poverty.” Pangilinan added.
This event was organized by the Department of Humanities (DHum) and Department of Social Sciences (DSS) of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). It was initiated by The Rhetoricians: The UPLB Speech Communication Organization in partnership with Political Science 1 Cluster and the UPLB GE Council.
On 11 March 2016, Presidential Candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will visit UPLB as part of DSS’ Presidential Candidates Lecture Series. Further details about this event will be announced soon. [P]