November 28, 2021
Presidential aspirant Mayor Francisco “Isko” Domagoso will “make sure” to implement laws such as the Safeguard Measures Act to curb excessive importation and put forth a “Filipino First” policy to ensure food security, consequently national security.
In a series of the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc’s (PCAFI) “Halalan Para sa Agrikultura 2022” held Friday, Domagoso committed to abiding by international treaties the Philippines signed into.
Yet, he said it is but reasonable to look after the welfare of Filipino farmers first.
“We live in a new world in a competitive time, We must also adhere to our relationships to the world. But first things first. Filipino first,” Domagoso said.
“I agree with treaties. I agree with contracts. But my question is what is it for us? Nobody can blame us if this will be our attitude as elected leaders, as government leaders in this issue of national security.”
PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto stressed during the forum that Philippines has not at all implemented laws regulating unnecessary importation as sanctioned by the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA-Republic Act 8435 of 1997).
This has caused flooding of imports, particularly pork recently. This has brought losses of more than P100 billion to date, to the detriment of the local pork sector and its farmers.
But the Safeguard Measures Act allows for the increase in duty of imported products in cases where this hurts the local industry and farmers.
Likewise, the imposition of anti-dumping duties under RA 8752 makes sure unfair trade competition is stopped.
When government- subsidized goods abroad are dumped in the Philippines at very cheap price that render Filipino farmers’ produce uncompetitive, the duties may be imposed, Fausto said.
Domagoso said such unfair competition for Filipino farmers should not happen again.
“We’ll make sure there will be level playing field. I always tell businessmen that in Manila, rules will be certain. There is predictability,” he said.
“It is good that we just have to implement those laws (on Safeguard Measures Act and Anti Dumping Act). When we implement, that applies to every John Doe and Mary.”
As Fausto said the AFMA-mandated National Information Data System should be created to ensure there is data on import, export, demand, supply, Domagoso said this data system should be the basis if there is a need for importation.
“Importation should only be when there is a delubyo (calamity). Gone will be the days of hula hula (guessing the importation data),” he said.
“Action should be based on facts, on quantifiable data. Or most likely it will be a shotgun approach. Nothing will be hit. If you have the data, then we will put actions. It may not be perfect, but results matter to me.”
The clear threat of food security has not been observed as during the pandemic, Domagoso said.
“The number one threat to national security is food security and it was made very clear to every John Doe and Mary in this pandemic – when Vietnam had an issue on (whether) to release their (rice) produce to the world in the middle of the pandemic.”
Now is a high time for PHilippines to invest in agriculture, he said.
“If our country, our leaders, not only the president, but legislative people, will not put our hearts into it, we’ll be subject into the situation of threat to food security five to 10 years from now.”
Domagoso lamented that when he went to Tarlac lately, farmers complained having earned only P12 to P14 per kilo for their unhusked rice.
“That means tabla talo. If the cost of production is P12-14, then they not only lose money, they are also losing because of the work they put in. No wonder why our partners are aging, and technology and experience of our farmers are not being transferred to the next generation. I for one as parent will tell my children, ‘Don’t go to farming. There’s no money there.’ Then we all lose,” he said. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)