DA’s P5,000 cash grant is an insult to Filipino rice farmers – Anakpawis

DA’s P5,000 cash grant is an insult to Filipino rice farmers – Anakpawis

Manila, Philippines – Former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao slammed the tokenist plan of the Department of Agriculture (DA) of P5,000 cash assistance to 600,000 rice farmers affected by the implementation of the Republic Act 11203 Rice Liberalization Law and branded it as an insult, not just to the producing sector but to the whole Filipino people as well.

“Farmers spent more than P50,000, and at farmgate price of P8 per kg, their losses are around P16,000 to P19,000, thus, the cash assistance is an insult to farmers and the people,” the former lawmaker said in a press statement.

He added that an amount of P5,000 is worth a little over two months of rice priced at P36 per kilo and consumed daily at 2 kg by rice farming families.

“Hence, DA’s assistance is not a production support, but a less than a survival tokenist crumb-giving,” he slammed.

According to another Anakpawis former lawmaker and actual farmer, Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, also, the Chairman Emeritus of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), this is designed to sow disunity among farmers as only a minority would be qualified and it even neglected the bulk farmworkers.

“Rice farmers in our country are around 2.3 million farmers, thus, the DA abandoned around 1.7 million and especially the poorer farmworkers who lost and will lose sources of livelihood,” the peasant leader said.

Mariano asserted that the only way to salvage the national rice industry is to repeal the RA 11203 and strengthen the National Food Authority’s (NFA) procurement at at least P20 per kg of palay and retailing it at a cheaper price at most P25 per kg.

“But the fundamental means of attaining national food security, based on self-sufficiency and self-reliance, is actually the full security of tenure of farmers on their land, as this wipes out unproductive feudal rent to landlords, emancipates the farmers from semi-feudal forms of exploitation of private traders,” he stressed.

He urged the people to support the petition signing to repeal the RA 11203 led by Bantay Bigas, Amihan and Gabriela.

Casilao also urged the people to support the Joint House Resolution 18 filed by lawmakers under the Makabayan bloc that pushes for a supplemental P15-billion budget for NFA to procure palay at P20 per kg.

“The Duterte government is so perplexed, that it wants to liberalize the rice industry, but it is now cornered into a wall and pressed by the peasant sector to intervene. All these talk about the cash grant, local governments to procure palay, even the retracted plan to increase tariffs, are all state intervention and on the opposite side of liberalization. It is undisputed that the country is not prepared for liberalization, but the government is stubborn and hard-core puppet of foreign monopoly instruments such as the World Trade Organization – Agreement on Agriculture (WTO-AoA) that it still defies the broad clamor to scrap RA 11203,” he elaborated.

Both leaders claimed that the worsening rice crisis is an endgamer to the Duterte government. As long as it continuously fail to address the pleas of the farmers, it will be totally isolated and resented by the majority sector in the country.

“The rice issue is a political issue. It has been always a driving force of social revolutions in world history. It all boils down to the popular saying that ‘a hungry people is an angry people,’ and treating them like children being gifted with P5,000 before Christmas is a mean way to make them angrier,” Casilao ended. ###

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