MANILA – Good job! This was the reaction of senatorial re-electionist Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan to the decision of the National Food Authority Council to grant voting rights to the farmer representative, Edwin Paraluman.
“Farmers are the primary stakeholder in food and agriculture. Giving their representative at the NFA Council, which decides on gut issues involving farmers, levels up their participation into their empowerment,” the former Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM) said
“Napaka-makabuluhan ng development na ito. Di lang siya makakasama siya sa mga diskusyon kundi pati sa mga pagpapasya ng NFA (This is a very significant development. He will be included not only in the discussions but also in the decision-making process of the NFA),” Pangilinan said.
“Ka-level niya ang mga Cabinet secretaries ng pamahalaan. ‘Yan ang pagbibigay-halaga sa kakayahan at kakaibang perspektiba ng isang magsasaka sa konsehal (He would be at the same level as Cabinet secretaries. This granting of voting right to the farmer representative means we value his competencies and his particular perspective as farmer that he would provide the council),” he added.
The NFA Council, the highest decision-making body of the Authority, approved during its regular meeting a one-vote right for the farmer representative.
This is in compliance with Republic Act 7606 or the Magna Carta of Small Farmers that mandates the inclusion of a farmer representative in the NFA Board.
The NFA Council, chaired by the Secretary of the Office of PAFSAM, is composed of representatives from the NFA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Finance (DOF), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Office of the President (OP), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), one appointive director, and the farmer sector representative.
“Our farmers are among the poorest in Philippine society, and are therefore the most affected by the decisions the policy-making body puts into effect,” Pangilinan said.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, poverty incidence among farmers in 2012 is 39.3 percent, or 14 percentage points higher than that of the overall population at 25.2 percent.
“We thank the council for this important milestone and we hope this could be a stepping stone in improving the lives of the same people who work in back-breaking jobs to provide food for the rest of the country,” he added.