Farmers to Marcos Jr: Time to quit DA and appoint a full-time working secretary

Farmers urged President Bongbong Marcos Jr. to quit the DA and appoint a competent agriculture secretary. “We need a full-time, hardworking, and sincere agriculture secretary who knows how to listen to the situation and demands of farmers and agriculture stakeholders. It is obvious that the President cannot fulfill his task as the agriculture secretary, with him being the concurrent Chief Executive and Commander-In-Chief. In the first instance, Marcos Jr. shouldn’t have taken the agriculture portfolio and appointed himself as secretary. His greed for power further undermines our food security and food self-sufficiency,” according to KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) also supported the calls of several opposition Senators urging Marcos Jr. to appoint a new agriculture Secretary. Senators Koko Pimentel and Risa Hontiveros have been demanding Marcos Jr. to appoint a fulltime agri Chief to address the sector’s woes. However, Marcos Jr. earlier declared that he is still needed at the DA to institutionalize structural changes.  

Marcos met with members of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) early this week to seek proposals on how to address the food security situation. “He snubbed the farmer-proposed Doables in Agriculture and chose to listen only to business executives,” Ramos said as he noted that PSAC lead convenor Aboitiz Group President and CEO Sabin Aboitiz, is one of Marcos’s top campaign contributors.

The PSAC’s agriculture sector advisory group is headed by Aileen Uygongco-Ongkauko of La Filipina, and composed of Chris Po of the Century Pacific Group, Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. of Frabelle, Irwin Lee of Universal Robina, and Ramon Lim of RNCL Prime Holdings Corp. — all leading companies in food processing, livestock, canning, and repacking. In a meeting with Marcos Jr., they proposed the digitalization of agriculture, development of the supply and value chains, and improvement of the agri and fisheries sector. They also called for the increase of Laguna Lake fish production, mobilization of coco levy and sugar funds, and prioritization of research and cane variety improvements for sugar production. “These business executives are insulated from high prices and hunger. We cannot expect them to propose solutions that will benefit the majority.”

KMP said Marcos’s group of advisers obviously have business and profit as their top priorities. Farmers and food producers on the other hand, are proposing concrete and actionable measures on how to boost local food production, how to genuinely develop the agriculture sector, and protect farmers and consumers alike from inflation shocks. KMP said to genuinely strengthen agriculture and fight hunger, Marcos Jr. should heed the demands of farmers, fisherfolk and food producers. ##

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