[Duterte’s legacy] Agriculture in ruins, impoverished peasants

It was not only the pandemic that brought down the country’s agriculture and economy, it was not only the pandemic that exacerbated the hunger and poverty of peasants and toiling masses – the Rodrigo Duterte regime itself is the worst disease and the worst disaster to hit the country.

The current Duterte regime will leave Filipino agriculture in a more serious collapse, and the peasant masses in a more impoverished condition. Here are some data related to the legacy that the Duterte regime will leave to the peasant masses. It also serves as a concrete basis as to why this puppet, intolerable, and fascist regime should end now. 

1. Worsening hunger even before the pandemic

It is not only the Duterte regime’s sloppy and militaristic response to the pandemic that has exacerbated the people’s hunger. Even before the pandemic, the national hunger rate had been severe and high for several years. 

According to the FAO, as early as 2017, Duterte’s first year, 63% of Filipinos could not afford a healthy diet, while 31% could not afford a diet with just enough nutrition. It was also reported that the number of those experiencing severe and moderate hunger increased by 14 million in the years 2017-2019 compared to 2014-2016. So even before the pandemic, more than 59 million Filipinos were already hungry. 

According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), six or 64.1% out of every ten Filipino families are food insecure since 2019. The number of hungry people has even increased from 53.9% in 2018.

2. Farmers face thrice hunger

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), since 2018, the majority (11.5%) of those considered food poor or do not have enough income to sustain food, are among farmers. This is more than triple the national average of only 3.4% of the total population. Next most food poor are among fishermen (8.3%) and rural dwellers (8%).

3. Worst poverty among the peasantry

Poverty rates remain the worst among farmers (31.6%) compared to the general population. In fact, it is almost double the national average (16.7%). Poverty incidence is next highest among fishermen (26.2%), and rural dwellers (24.5%).

4. Miniscule coverage of miniscule aid

Only about 900,000 or about one in ten farmers were identified to receive assistance from the Department of Agriculture. This is only equivalent to 7% of the 13.6 million farmers listed in various government registeries. Worse, this aid amounted to just P2,000-worth of rice and chicken or eggs and P3,000 cash given only once in 2020. 

This is far from the P10,000 call for urgent aid every month under lockdown, and the P15,000 demand for subsidies on agricultural production. 

Meanwhile, a P251 billion tax break has been provided for entrepreneurs under the CREATE (Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act) Law.

5. Haciendas remain, fattening cronies

Vast haciendas and other landholdings remain under Duterte, who has become the main representative of landlords and capitalists. Vast lands are still concentrated in the hands of a few families and corporations. 

Below are some of the most prominent families and corporations with the largest owned or expropriated land in the country based on KMP monitoring from 2017 to 2021.

Individual, family, or corporateLandholing and locationHectarage
1. DMCI-ConsunjiLogging areas in Sultan Kudarat102,954
2. YuloYulo King Ranch in Palawan and Hacienda Yulo in Laguna47,100
3. Ramon AngTotal declared property of San Miguel Corp. across the country. Including its energy areas in Compostela Valley, Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corp. in Davao Oriental, and Talitip Aerotropolis in Bulacan37,307
4. AboitizAboitiz Geothermal Powerplant in Pampanga and Zambales29,000
5. Pamilyang Zobel-AyalaDeclared landbank of Ayala Land, malls, offices, and other properties nationwide; and Hacienda Zobel in Batangas25,440
6. Pamilyang CojuangcoHacienda San Antonio – Sta. Isabel and Hacienda de San Luis in Isabela; Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac; Hacienda San Antonio, Hacienda Araal, Hacienda Cainaman, Hacienda Fe, Hacienda Adelina, Hacienda Candelaria & Caridad, Hacienda Balatong, Hacienda Soledad, Hacienda Nieva, and Hacienda Bonifacia in Negros Occidental25,046
7. ReyesHacienda Reyes in Quezon13,000
8. MadrigalHacienda Madrigal in Cagayan Valley12,000
9. GotianunDeclared landbank of Filinvest nationwide and New Clark City in Pampanga and Tarlac11,350
10. EspinozaHaciendas and ranchos in Masbate10,000
11. SyHacienda Looc in Batangas and 76 malls nationwide9,510
12. AranetaAraneta Estate, Isabela-Teresa Land, and other properties in Bulacan and Rizal6,934
13. James MurrayTumbaga Ranch in Quezon6,000
14. VillaceteHacienda Villacete in Cagayan Valley6,000
15. MatiasHacienda Matias in Quezon5,000
16. RoxasHacienda Roxas in Batangas4,783
17. ZuluetaHacienda Dimzon-Zulueta, Hacienda Ballao, Hacienda Sevillana, and Hacienda Nueza in Isabela4,538
18. EscuderoHacienda Escudero in Laguna and Quezon4,000
19. PuyatPuyat Estate in Batangas and Atlanta Lands in Laguna3,900
20. VillarDeclared Vista Land landbank, 31 malls, 7 BPO offices, and other properties in 49 provinces nationwide. Holds 61% of the house lot market in the country3,135
21. Sara DuterteBanana farms in Mount Negron, Zambales3,000
22.Juanito UyHacienda Uy in Quezon2,415

The land owned by businessmen close to the Duterte faction grew even more. 

Udenna Land of Duterte’s well-known crony Dennis Uy has a declared 365 hectares by 2021. In 2018, it earned P2.8 billion, or the equivalent of 260% growth from land sales, leases, and port revenues. 

Ramon Ang’s San Miguel Corporation, on the other hand, declared 17,123 hectares of land owned in 2016. By the end of 2020, it has become 37,307 hectares, or the equivalent of 118% increase over four years. 

Villars’ VistaLand had 45% control over the local house lot market in 2016. By the end of 2020, it has become 61% after building more than 100,000 houses and lots. Its landbank is also 23% more with added 564 hectares. Cynthia Villar is the Committee Chair of the Committee on Food and Agriculture in the Senate, while Mark Villar is the Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

6. Bogus reform, faster conversion, parcelization 

Between 2016 and 2019 only 161,445 hectares of land were issued with CLOA under CARP. It is another matter of whether the farmer is actually occupying the land. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has no actual inventory of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) still on the ground. 

Meanwhile, at least 1,820 hectares of land already covered by CARP have been allowed to be converted by the DAR since 2016. Illegal conversions are not included in this number. In 2019, the DAR also issued Administrative Order No. 1 which removed previously required certifications from HLURB and DA for land conversion. It also shortened the conversion application process from six months to just one month. 

The Duterte regime also loaned P24 billion for the SPLIT (Support to Parcelization of Land and Individualization of Titles) program. SPLIT will parcelize 1.4 million hectares of land in 78 provinces, by individualizing the Collective CLOAs of 1.1 million beneficiaries. From 2018 to 2020, the DAR has parcelized a total of 35,374 hectares.

7. Butchered pork industry

As with COVID, the Duterte regime’s response to the African Swine Fever (ASF) is a failure. ASF continues to spread, two years after it was first discovered in the country from smuggled pork from China. 

It is estimated that the pork crisis will last until 2026 depending how the government resolves ASF. By 2021, the disease has also hit Ilocos, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Leyte, Masbate, Samar, Surigao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Sur, and Davao – areas it did not reach just last October 2020. 

Hog farmers have already lost at least P56 billion as the Duterte regime opted to import 250,000 metric tons of pork at lower tariffs. Meanwhile, the price of pork remains high. According to the DA’s own monitoring, pork kasim is still at P340 per kilo, and pork liempo is at P370 per kilo. These are still higher than the P270 and P350 per kilo suggested retail price (SRP). 

Foreign importers and large corporations such as SMC and Universal Robina are expected to devour local and small pig farmers in the coming months. 

8. Collapsing rice industry 

The import dependency ratio (IDR) of rice increased by 304%. In 2019, a year after the Rice Liberalization Law, 20% or 2 out of 10 sacks of rice are imported – the highest rate since 1998. In the same year, the Philippines also became the largest importer of rice in the world. Bantay Bigas had earlier reported P90 billion in losses of rice farmers due to the RLL. 

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the average production cost per hectare of rice increased by nearly Php2,600 while net income decreased by nearly Php3,400, from 2016 to 2019. For at least 3.8 million registered rice farmers, this means an average of Php9.88 billion additional costs and Php12.92 billion reduction in income per harvest during the aforementioned years.

Anakpawis has also reported a decline in rice production in 27 provinces nationwide.

9. Increasing farming costs, decreasing farmer incomes

According to PSA, from 2016 to 2019, the cost of farming in the following twelve (12) crops increased by 13% while the income of farmers decreased by 24. This is equivalent to an average of P16,283 additional cost and P26,020 reduction in income per harvest for such crops. 

The largest increase in production costs was in tomato (20%), papaya (19%), and watermelon (19%). While the worst decline in income was in papaya (-125%), tomato (-31%), stringbean (-24%), and potato (-24%).

CauseLoss
RLLP90 billion
ASFP56 billion
2020 typhoonsP12.3 billion
Taal eruptionP3.06 billion
Total161.36 billion

In addition, farmers in various sub-sectors have lost at least a total of P161 billion due to the RLL and the Duterte regime’s failures to prepare for and deal with various disasters. 

Earlier, farmers’ income was also reduced by ten (10) percent in 2018 due to TRAIN increasing consumer taxes.

10. Huge losses in agricultural trade

YearAgri importsAgri exportsBalance
2016115.12– 5.88
201711.766.58– 5.18
201814.106.12– 7.99
201914.546.68– 7.86
202012.586.20– 6.38
Total63.9830.70– 33.29
Average12.806.14– 6.66

Every year, the country’s imported agricultural products cost almost twice as much as its exports. Under the four years of the Duterte regime, the country has lost a total of USD 33.3 billion from agricultural trade or USD 6.7 billion per year. 

Despite this, the DA is eagerly pushing Filipino farmers to enter the export market under the concept of the “global value chain,” instead of emphasizing local production for local consumption especially in the midst of severe hunger.

11. Agriculture at a slump even before the pandemic

Year% of agri in GDP 
201511.3%
201610.4%
201710.1%
2018 9.7%
2019 9.2%
202010.2% 

Because of these, it is not surprising that the share of agriculture in the national economy has fallen almost every year. In 2019, it plunged to 9.2%, the lowest in 13 years. It only had an increase in 2020 due to the deeper decline of the industry and services sector.

12. Rain-fed farms, sluggish irrigation development

Almost all farms in the country still depend on rain for irrigation. Irrigation systems in the country cover only two (2) million hectares, which is only equivalent to 16% of the total area of ​​farms. There are at least 1.1 to 3 million hectares of irrigable lands that are still unirrigated and vulnerable to drought. 

The expansion of irrigation systems under the Duterte regime has been very slow. From 2015 to 2019, total irrigation in the country grew by only 3.3% or less than one percent per year. If it stays at the same speed, it will take another 29 years before the paltry target of only 3.1 million hectares can be irrigated. 

Despite the enactment of the Anakpawis Partylist’s Free Irrigation Services Act (FISA), many farmers also continue to pay irrigation fees.

13. Worsening food import dependence

 20162019% increase
Roundscad0.421.95,375.0
Rice5.020.2304.0
Shrimp and prawns5.78.243.9
Tuna21.227.931.6
Beef32.740.323.2
Potatoes14.818.122.3
Pork10.612.921.7
Mongo47.950.55.4
Garlic89.192.23.5
Peanuts72.575.03.4

From 2016 to 2019, the ID, of roundscad increased by a staggering 5,375%. From 99.6% self-sufficiency in 2016, two (2) out of every 10 roundscad are now imported. There are also significant increases in the level of imported shrimp and tuna. 

The level of imported beef (40%) and pork (13%) also increased significantly. It will certainly increase further in 2021 following the implementation of Executive Order 134 which allowed the entry of 250,000 metric tons of imported pork at reduced tariffs. 

Even products with previously very high import dependency such as monggo, garlic, and peanuts have increased even more under the Duterte regime.

14. Agriculture deprived of budget

TaonDA budget out of total% of total
201648.4B of 3.002T1.61%
201745.2B of 3.35T 1.35%
2018 53.3B of 3.8T1.40%
2019 47.2B of 3.7T1.28%
202062.3B of 4.1T 1.52%
202166B of 4.5T 1.47%
Average 1.4%

Since taking office, the Duterte regime has abandoned agriculture. From 2016 to 2021, it allocated less than 2% of the total national budget to agriculture. On average, only 1.4% of the total budget went to agriculture. It is only equivalent to a peso and .50 cents for every P100 of public funds. 

Worse, after the country began facing a public health crisis in 2020, agriculture’s share of the national budget fell further in 2021.

15. Relentless killings and terrorism against the peasantry

There were 336 victims of political killings among the peasantry, including the victims of 25 massacres since 2016. The killings continued and worsened even under the pandemic and lockdowns. Among those brutally killed was former KMP Deputy Secretary-General and peace consultant Randall Echanis. Most of the murders occured in Region 6 (Negros), Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), Region 5 (Bicol) and Region 11 (Southern Mindanao). 

Focused military operations on peasant and indigenous communities in the countryside have been relentless under various AFP operational plans. It seems that there is still Martial Law in Mindanao while Memorandum Order No. 32 is still imposed in Bicol, Samar and Negros. So many have been killed, illegally arrested, and imprisoned in the joint operations of the AFP and PNP-CIDG in the Synchronized Enhanced Managing Police Operations (SEMPO) and Simultaneous Anti-Criminality Law Enforcement Operation (SACLEO). Oplan Kapanatagan did not bring security and instead imposed violence and fascism on the people. 

Tama na! Sobra na! Wakasan na!

The continuation of the Duterte regime means the continuation and worsening of the hunger, poverty, and killings faced by the toiling masses. Only landlords, big capitalists, corrupt officials, and foreign businesses and importers are celebrating and pushing for the continuation of this rotten regime. Duterte, who still dreams of running for Vice President with his daughter Sara Duterte, must be fought with all our might and ended. 

End the Duterte regime now!

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