Filipino farmers as well as local fishermen have been gravely affected by the rampant smuggling of agricultural and fisheries products from other countries. (Photo: PearlPay)
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Recognizing the plight of our local farmers and fisherfolk amidst the economic crunch caused by spiraling prices of fuel and other recessive developments, PROMDI presidential candidate Sen. Manny Pacquiao welcomed the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to exempt from the election spending ban the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s subsidy programs for farmers and fisherfolk.
In a statement, the People’s Champ noted how the agricultural and fisheries sector has been gravely affected by the economic downturn so it would only be proper for the government to address their needs and to give assistance wherever it is needed.
“Hindi natin puwedeng pabayaan sila. Kahit election period na, mas kailangan nilang matulungan kaya tama lang na i-exempt ang DA sa election spending ban para matulungan natin ang mga naghihikahos nating mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” Pacquiao pointed out.
The incumbent senator also advised government authorities to speed up investigations on the alleged prevalence of agricultural smuggling which has put a stranglehold on the lives of Filipino farmers who are desperately trying to make ends meet despite the collapsed pricing of farm-gate prices of agricultural products due to the entry of cheaper products from other countries, such as China and Thailand.
“Dapat nang madaliin ito upang makapagbalangkas na ng mga polisiya para matigil ang importasyon ng mga produktong agrikultura at isda mula sa ibang bansa. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit nawawalan ng pangkabuhayan ang ating mga sektor ng agrikultura,” aniya.
On Wednesday, Comelec commissioner George Garcia announced during House committee hearing that the poll body has approved the request “without any limitations or restrictions because (it) honestly believe(s) that these are very important projects of the DA.”
Garcia explained that to be covered by the exemption are PhP1.1 billion worth of fuel subsidies for corn farmers and fisherfolk as well as cash assistance for rice farmers and the procurement of farming equipment and machinery. (AI/MTVN)