• Crucifying the Filipino farmers

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    Emeterio Sd. Perez

    WHEN has the government under any administration favored Filipino farmers with policies that would have helped them increase their harvest and get them out of poverty?

    In this country, generosity has assumed a new meaning; it does not mean charity where the giver does not expect anything in return.

    Rather, in government, more often than not, bribe money that the Filipino farmers can never afford to put up makes things happen.

    Will there be a change under the present national leadership? Filipino farmers can only hope there is. The problem is, with the infighting among top officials over the importation of rice, any kind of change for the better seems impossible.

    It is a pity that Filipinos—and the farmers among them—have been fed news about honesty in government. A number of presidential appointees have been dismissed for alleged corruption and the present occupant of Malacañang has promised to fire more of his own people in his effort to instill honesty among public servants.
    Whether or not he would succeed in this effort is something Filipinos can only expect to bear fruit at least in the near future, that is, before the end of his six-year term.

    Irony of ironies
    Isn’t it ironic that the Philippines plays host to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)? Yet, despite IRRI, the government has to rely on importation of the Filipinos’ most basic food commodity, and nobody knows if it has been pricing imported rice to recover even unnecessary expenses.

    As a matter of fact, the government-owned Philippine Rice Institute (PhilRice) can well provide Filipino farmers with scientific knowledge about palay production. Again, the nagging question that government officials fail to even appreciate a little is why, despite IRRI and PhilRice, the Philippines imports rice to beef up market supply.
    It is an irony of ironies that the Philippines plays host to IRRI and even owns PhilRice but has yet to succeed in making this country self-sufficient in rice production. Is it because this country is populated by so many politicians who talk much but work less?

    It may be time to review the government’s policies on agriculture that should be more focused on improving local palay harvest instead of importing the commodity from Vietnam to keep enough supply for Filipino consumers.
    By the way, why the debates among government officials either for or against rice importation during harvest season? Just asking.

    Masagana 99
    Instead of wasting on importation much-needed foreign exchange such as the US dollar, the government should help Filipino farmers avail themselves of a scientific way of agriculture to increase their yield per hectare. This, along with providing them efficient post-harvest facilities, could lessen the impact of poverty on the life of every Filipino farmer and his family.

    Why not revive the Masagana 99 program implemented during the regime of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos?

    The problem with any administration, especially during the six-year crony reign of the first woman president of this country, is that anything that has something to do with Marcos was taboo. Really? How could this be when there were good things that had happened under his rule?

    It would have been better if the national leaders of this country would review certain agriculture policies of government. Forget Marcos. He has already been buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani. Let him rest in peace by not making him the scapegoat for every major blunder of government.

    Changing times
    The Filipino farmers should know by now how politics affects their life, as policies change whenever a new president and members of Congress are elected. If they don’t lobby for their own sake, which they can’t possibly afford, the private but very rich traders would beat them to Congress. They might have been promised the moon by politicians but only in exchange for their votes.

    What happens after elections is a poser that comes along every three years. As the saying goes, promises are made to be broken. The dirty and the corrupt but victors among politicians forget all about the “moon” and get themselves busy with something else except their assigned task of making laws.

    Yes, these are changing times and the Filipino farmers may not have been schooled on politics. But they know in their hearts that they have fallen victims to sweet-talking politicians. Will their attitude toward those who have cheated them of many promises also change?

    The Filipino farmers may have learned their lesson the hard way. Will they allow themselves to be fooled again and again?

    esdperez@gmail.com

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