LOOK who’s now championing the cause of farmers in the Philippines, a developing Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 million election-crazy and English-speaking people.
There’s Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee R. Marcos, a senatorial candidate in this year’s May 13 elections, who wants the government to address the over-importation of pork and chicken meat.
The lady governor, a daughter of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda R. Marcos, also lamented the rampant smuggling of agricultural products.
Marcos said the illegal entry of agricultural products into the country is a major constraint to economic growth and affects job creation in the rural areas, where majority of the poor live.
And rampant large-scale smuggling of agricultural products, she said, robs our local growers and farmers of their incomes.
Marcos, a cousin of former Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez, called on the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Customs to intensify the drive against smuggling of agricultural products.
With her pro-agriculture agenda, Ms. Marcos is now an acknowledged “darling” of Filipino farmers.
Large-scale smuggling of agricultural products, such as pork and chicken meat, is economic sabotage under Republic Act (RA) No. 10845.
On the other hand, Engr. Rosendo So, chair of the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, wants the government to put in place safeguards to ensure that the local meat industry does not die.
Like the highly-articulate governor from Ilocos Norte, So called for the suspension of the importation of meat and vegetables, claiming that “this is affecting our backyard raisers.”
The government, he said, ought to give the beleaguered backyard raisers “breathing space” to enable them to recover their losses, adding that sometimes they sell their produce at a loss.
It is certainly lamentable that although it is an agricultural country, the “Pearl of the Orient Seas” remains as one of the world’s principal importers of rice and other farm products.