Saying majority of Filipinos are farmers, vice presidential candidate and Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has vowed to regain the country’s status as the leading agricultural power in Asia.
Gracing the “Araw ng Agrikutura” (Day of Agriculture) in Baler town, Aurora, on Monday, Marcos noted the continuing drop in agriculture’s contribution to the economy from a high of 30 percent in the post-World War 2 era to the current level of 11 percent.
“What is more alarming is that agriculture is now tied with poverty. Some 37 percent of our workers are in the agriculture sector and they are the lowest paid workers in the country,” he said.
The lawmaker from Ilocos Norte added that farmers have two enemies—loan sharks and calamities, including typhoons.
“Victims of high prices and capitalism, only to be victimized once more by calamities, they are truly lucky if they can recover their capital,” he said.
“So how can you expect Filipino farmers to compete? In the past, we were famed agricultural producers but now we are better known as importers. Not content with being importers, some unscrupulous individuals even become notorious agricultural smugglers,” the senator pointed out.
He said the first step in regaining the country’s status as an “agricultural titan” is to repair damaged irrigation systems and supply water from dams and rivers.
“We must work to increase agricultural production and raise the income of our farmers,” Marcos added. “The next step is to form cooperatives to strengthen their bargaining power and marketing capabilities.”
Once elected as Vice President, Marcos vowed to help the President in finding the best solutions to boost the growth of the agriculture sector.
Meanwhile, the lawmaker attributed his good showing in surveys to his unity campaign strategy, saying Filipinos welcome it.
The latest Social Weather Stations survey showed Marcos sharing the top spot with Sen. Francis Escudero.
“I think my message of unity that I bring in the campaign is something that is accepted by our countrymen,” he said.
The senator has made unity his campaign battlecry, saying it is the only way for the country to move forward.
He explained that his decision to kick off his campaign in his hometown of Batac, Ilocos Norte, was to rally the so-called Solid North to start the unification process.
Calling his campaign the Unity Caravan, Marcos spent the first week of the campaign period in the Solid North provinces of Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union and Pangasinan, where opposing political rivals vowed to support his bid for the second highest post in the government.