VICE-PRESIDENTIAL candidate Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said the Team Robredo-Pangilinan (TROPA) will stop the syndicates behind the importation and smuggling of agriculture products that are killing the Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.
“TROPA lang, Leni-Kiko lang ang kayang sugpuin ang mga sindikatong nasa likod ng importasyon at smuggling na pumapatay sa Pilipinong magsasaka at mangingisda,” he said, on reports that the Department of Agriculture plans to slash import duties to allow imported corn to flood the market.
Pangilinan urged the government to instead provide the needed support to the Philippine corn industry to boost production instead of relying on importation.
“Itigil ang pag-angkat ng mais. Dapat bumili ang gobyerno sa Pilipinong magsasaka sa ilalim ng Batas Sagip Saka at lalago ang maisan dito sa atin,” he said.
“Ipatupad ang Batas Sagip Saka. Yan ang kailangan ng ating mga magmamais, hindi imported na mais,” he added.
Pangilinan warned that the flooding of imported corn with slashed import duties would sound the death knell to corn farmers and the industry.
“Unti-unting ikamamatay ng ating mga magsasaka ang pagbaba ng taripa at pagpasok ng imported na mais,” he said.
“Nananawagan tayo sa pamahalaan na ‘wag gawin sa corn industry ang ginawa nilang pagluluwag sa imported na bigas na siya ngayong nagpapahirap sa ating magpapapalay,” he added.
Pangilinan said corn farmers are already suffering heavy battering from high prices of fuel which they use in farming.
Many corn growers are also still trying to regain their footing after a series of typhoons last year which destroyed their crops.
The Philippine Maize Federation Inc. recently wrote the Tariff Commission appealing not to give the go-signal to the government’s proposal to reduce the corn tariff to five percent from 35 percent for in-quota imports under the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme and to 15 percent for out-quota imports.
The group said increasing the MAV will bring the imports to 4 million metric tons (MT), representing 73.53 percent of the industry’s yearly production, and far greater than the average MAV of 380,000 MT.
“Ang kailangan ng ating magsasaka ay support, hindi import,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan added: “We must learn from the lessons of the rice tariffication law, which flooded our market with imported rice, floored the palay prices, to the detriment of our farmers.”
He said that corn importation could pave the way anew for smuggling, which has remained a major problem for the government.
“Kami sa TROPA ni Leni, aalisin natin ang pagka-adik ng gobyerno sa pag-angkat ng pagkain. Itataas natin ang productivity para pirmis at sapat ang supply. Ito ang pinakamabuting paraan para labanan ang gutom at mataas na presyo ng pagkain,” Pangilinan said.