Vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today said the Kidapawan tragedy may happen again unless the government adopts a sound agricultural policy that truly addresses the needs of the farmers.
Marcos has condemned the violent dispersal of farmers who staged a protest rally in Kidapawan City to demand rice and release of the calamity fund because their families were suffering from hunger as a result of the drought brought about by the El Nino weather phenomenon.
Marcos had filed also Senate Resolution No. 1739 calling for a Senate inquiry on the violent dispersal operation that resulted to the death of three and injury to hundreds of others, saying it is important to give justice to the farmers and provide them the help they need as soon as possible.
“But for the long term, we must put in place a sound agricultural policy that takes care of farmers, because unless we do this, there is danger the tragic Kidapawan incident may happen again,” said Marcos.
He said the government’s neglect of the agricultural situation has led to the anomalous consequence where those who produce our country’s food are the ones suffering from hunger.
For instance he noted that despite the recurring El Nino phenomenon and the resulting drought in many places, the government has failed to expand the irrigation system and devise alternative means to store abundant water during the rainy season.
“We all know that without water farmers can’t plant their crops, so it is crucial that we improve and expand our irrigation system,” he stressed. Marcos has been calling too for the scrapping of irrigation fees the government charges from the farmers to lessen their burden.
Among others, Marcos had also proposed cheaper credit facilities for farmers, better crop insurance coverage, research and development to develop drought or flood-resistant crops, construction of more post-harvest facilities and strategic farm-to-market roads to facilitate transport of harvest.
Marcos said his long experience as governor of Ilocos Norte had taught him that if farmers get the help they need from the government, their lives not only improve but they also help boost the economy.
“We must provide our farmers all the necessary assistance so that we not only alleviate any adverse impact of natural calamities but also help them produce more so they won’t go hungry again,” said Marcos.