Vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Friday warned that the Kidapawan tragedy may happen again unless the government adopts a sound agricultural policy that truly addresses the needs of the farmers.
Marcos had condemned the violent dispersal of farmers who staged a protest rally in
Kidapawan City on April 1 to demand rice and the release of a calamity fund because their families were suffering from hunger as a result of the drought brought about by the El Nino weather phenomenon.
Three farmers were killed and more than a 100 people, including policemen, were injured in the incident.
Marcos had filed Senate Resolution 1739, calling for a Senate inquiry into the dispersal, saying it is important to give justice to the farmers and provide them the help they need as soon as possible.
“But for the long term, we must put in place a sound agricultural policy that takes care of farmers, because unless we do this, there is danger the tragic Kidapawan incident may happen again,” the Ilocano lawmaker said.
He noted that the government’s neglect of the agricultural situation has led to an anomalous consequence where those who produce the country’s food are the ones suffering from hunger.
For instance, Marcos said, despite the recurring El Nino phenomenon and the resulting drought in many places, the government has failed to expand the country’s irrigation system and devise alternative means to store abundant water during the rainy season.
“We all know that without water, farmers can’t plant their crops, so it is crucial that we improve and expand our irrigation system,” he added.
Marcos has been calling too for the scrapping of irrigation fees that the government charges the farmers to lessen their burden.
Among others, he had also proposed cheaper credit facilities for farmers, better crop insurance coverage, research and development to develop drought or flood-resistant crops, construction of more post-harvest facilities and strategic farm-to-market roads to facilitate transport of harvest.
Marcos said his long experience as governor of Ilocos Norte had taught him that if farmers get the help they need from the government, their lives not only improve but they also help boost the economy.
“We must provide our farmers all the necessary assistance so that we not only alleviate any adverse impact of natural calamities but also help them produce more so they won’t go hungry again,” he added.