MANILA, Philippines — A group of peasants on Sunday urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to step down as secretary of agriculture and appoint a suitable person for the job so he can deal with rising food prices.
“We need a full-time, hardworking agriculture secretary who knows how to listen to the situation and the demands of farmers and agriculture stakeholders,” said Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) chairman, Danielle Ramos.
Marcos resisted such calls, saying it was still “necessary” for the Department of Agriculture (DA) to institutionalize structural changes. He had also rejected calls to appoint a health secretary because he would prefer to appoint one after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
The President earlier met with members of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) to solicit proposals on how to address the food security situation.
However, Ramos noted that the president had snubbed several industry proposals, including a 12-point “Doables in Agriculture” that sought to end the policy of reliance on food imports and the conversion of farmland.
Ramos lamented how farmers and food producers “proposed concrete and achievable measures on how to boost local food production, truly develop the agricultural sector and protect farmers and consumers from inflationary shocks”, but were ignored.
They did, however, discuss plans to digitize agriculture, develop supply and value chains, and improve the agriculture and fisheries sector.
Aid to farmers
On Sunday, Marcos was in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, where he led the distribution of government aid to small farmers’ organizations and other sector groups.
He promised more government assistance to these sectors as the economy adjusts to external factors affecting the supply of food and other agricultural products.
During the ceremony, the DA presented fictitious checks to six farmers’ organizations in the amount of 88 million pesos under its rural development project in the Philippines to help 1,833 farmers in the province engaged in the breeding and marketing of indigenous chickens and goats, as well as in the production and marketing of coffee and virgin coconut oil. .
Additional funds have also been made available for three groups of farmers growing maize and coffee and rearing indigenous chickens.
In addition, the DA distributed free palay seeds to 100 beneficiary farmers cultivating 52,249 hectares across the province. The award certificate was received on their behalf by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development, meanwhile, has distributed aid worth 500,000 pesos to 100 destitute and distressed residents, who will each receive 5,000 to 10,000 pesos.
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