Farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) responded today to presidentiable Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s promise to bring down rice prices to P20 per kilo.
“Marcos Jr.’s pronouncement is a fat lie. Lessons from history naturally evade the mind of a tax evader who refuses to admit past mistakes,” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos says.
The farmer leader explains that Marcos Jr.’s proposal of subsidized rice prices is not new — it has been tried and has “miserably failed” through Marcos Sr.’s Kadiwa stores. “Bumenta at pumalpak na yan,” he quips. Bringing back Kadiwa stores “in every barangay” is indeed one of Marcos Jr.’s campaign promises.
Starting in 1980, the Kadiwa program was meant to provide basic commodities, procured by the government in bulk, at affordable prices. It was backed by four government agencies all headed by graft-convict Imelda Marcos. Costing the government P18 million within two years, Kadiwa was characterized by hoarding, raids, and by 1983, empty rice shelves. From May to November 1984, rice prices even surged by 25.9% to P5.35/kilo, eating up a third of the then P16 daily minimum wage. Short-lived, Kadiwa was shut down in 1985.
“Why would we repeat another failure? But then again that pretty much sums Marcos Jr.’s candidacy,” Ramos comments.
He adds that Marcos Jr.’s entire “agriculture” platform is a rehash of his father’s programs.
KMP insisted that the only sustainable way to make rice affordable is by increasing local production.
“Marcos Jr. has had numerous opportunities to push laws for the development of the Philippine’s rice industry – but what has he done? Marcos Jr. had multiple terms in Congress during the 30 years of public service he has boasted, yet he has repeatedly snubbed pro-farmer bills. As Senator, how many enacted laws on agriculture have Marcos Jr. authored, co-authored, sponsored, or co-sponsored? Nothing. Zero.”
The farmer leader pointed out that Marcos Jr., as a Congressman and Senator, snubbed the now enacted Free Irrigation Services Act. Advanced by Anakpawis Partylist, the law removed irrigation fees for farm lots smaller than eight hectares. He continues that Marcos Jr. has likewise snubbed the proposed Rice Industry Development Act meant to establish self-reliance in Philippine rice production and the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill aiming to freely distribute lands to farmers.
“How can we believe the words of someone who has sidelined us, farmers, for years? Tigil-tigilan kami ni Bongbong,” Ramos ended.