Duterte’s 0-2 score on food self-sufficiency – Anakpawis
Manila, Philippines – As the Duterte government approved the importation of 45,000 metric tons of “galunggong” (round scad), Anakpawis Party-list former representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao slammed it as the second epic failure in the food self-sufficiency agenda, on items which poor sectors commonly access. This was after that the rice self-sufficiency fell since 2016, until this year under the regime of the Republic Act 11203 Rice Liberalization Law, where around 3 million metric tons are to be imported to the country. Self-sufficiency is the ratio of locally produced supply to the total country’s utilization.
Rice self-sufficiency was at 95.01 in 2016, 93.44 in 2017, and 86.17 in 2018. Meanwhile, galunggong was at 99.64 in 2016, 98.57 in 2017 and 96.94 in 2018, when 17,000 metric tons were imported.
“The latest move of the agriculture secretary William Dar is an admission that the Duterte administration failed to improve self-sufficiency and it is bringing the Filipino population away from national food security and towards hunger. They expose themselves as neoliberal bureaucrats who, amid their credentials could only think up of the band-aid solution that is importation,” he said in a press statement.
He added that undermined self-sufficiency in fisheries in an insult to the Filipino people, given that the country is archipelagic and that history and culture were mainly influenced by relying on catching food by the bodies of water.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) needs a lot of explaining to do on why the volume of production of galunggong dramatically fell from 211,000 metric tons in 2016, to 183,000 MT in 2017, to the lowest 168,000 in 2018. In 2018, almost all of the regions except for Caraga and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao posted declines in production.
He also questioned the Department of Agriculture and BFAR on why they declared fishing bans on galunggong-rich areas without any consideration on the affected municipal fishermen sector and its impact on retail prices, then affecting poor consumers.
Fishing bans were declared in Palawan, Zamboanga and Visayan Sea. These areas contribute at least the quarter of galunggong production in 2018. Galunggong retail prices are at P360 per kilo almost nearing the price of beef, from its usual price around P180 per kilo.
“Thus, the Duterte government deliberately declared fishing bans where galunggong are produced, consequently affecting small fishermen and poor consumers. Now, they act as concerned bureaucrats and are pushing for importation purportedly to arrest the rising retail prices. This is a clear model of neoliberal measure sabotaging the socio-economic structure of galunggong sector,” the former lawmaker summed up.
Finally, he urged the small fishermen sector across the country to hold BFAR officials accountable for their loss of incomes and miseries and demand President Rodrigo Duterte of a genuine fisheries program that will uplift their socio-economic well-being and sustain the marine environment.
“Duterte has already failed in attaining self-sufficiency in rice, now, he is outright sabotaging the national galunggong production. These epic failures are throwing tens of millions of poor Filipinos into worsened poverty and hunger,” he ended. ###