FILIPINO farmers and fisher folk fed the Philippines for over two months that Metro Manila and other parts of the country were under community quarantine, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Sunday, eve of the easing of the quarantine and also National Fisherfolks Day.
“Isa sa mga napatunayan ng pandemya ang napakahalagang papel ng mga nagpapakain sa atin. Nabuksan ng pandemya ang mga mata natin na hindi tayo mabubuhay kung wala sila. Sana’y maging unang hakbang ang pagkilalang ito sa pagbibigay-halaga sa kanila,” said the former Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.
“Mapapakita natin ang ating pasasalamat kung patuloy nating direktang tatangkilikin ang kanilang mga produkto katulad ng nangyari nitong quarantine,” Pangilinan said.
The farmer-senator was referring to the P2.2-billion worth of food that 407 local government units bought directly from farmers and fisher folk for their various food packs. He also noted the various initiatives, including his own, to connect food producers directly to food consumers.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar gave that report during an oversight hearing at the Senate ten days ago. At the same hearing, Dar said the senator’s Sagip Saka Law was very useful in ensuring that the food supply chain was working largely uninterrupted during the quarantine.
On April 28, Governor Nancy Catamco of North Cotabato wrote Pangilinan to thank him for Republic Act 11321 or the Sagip Saka Act, which she said “has proved very valuable in the efforts of [the province] to boost food security and stimulate [the] local economy.”
In the letter, Catamco said her provincial government used part of its Quick Response Fund to buy agricultural products for the food packs it distributed.
Pangilinan said that if the Sagip Saka Act is properly and continuously implemented, incomes of farmers and fisher folk will rise while at the same time food costs for consumers will drop.
“Kapag mas na-engganyo na silang magtanim, mas maraming agricultural products ang nasa merkado, mas bababa ang presyo nito, mas maigi para sa mamimili,” he said.
“Batas na itong Sagip Saka. Kailangang malaman ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda kung paano ito gamitin para mapakinabangan nang husto,” Pangilinan added.