SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go has urged the government to refrain from importing agricultural products if it would hurt the Filipino farmers. This, after the Sugar Regulatory Administration proposed to import sugar into the Philippines.
“Bilang senador, ako po ay miyembro rin po ng Committee on Agriculture, I’m appealing po sa ating Executive Department. Department of Agriculture, unahin n’yo po ang kapakanan ng mga farmers,” appealed Go during an interview after his personal visit to the fire victims in Sta. Cruz, Manila on Friday, April 8.
“Kung hindi naman kailangan mag-import, ‘wag muna… unahin muna nating bilihin itong mga produkto ng ating local farmers dahil ang makikinabang po dito yung maliliit. Yung mga isang kahig, isang tuka,” he added.
The senator reiterated that the government should place a higher priority on the welfare of small farmers than importers.
“Ito namang mga importers po, mayayaman na po ‘yan so unahin natin ang kapakanan ng small farmers. Kung sa tingin n’yo kulang na, saka na kayo mag-import. Yun po ang trabaho ninyo — to balance everything,” stressed Go.
“Please lang po, ‘yan ang parati kong stand noon pa. At hindi magbabago yan. Interes po ng bawat maliliit na farmers ang unahin,” he added.
Go also emphasized that importation of agricultural products must be for supply augmentation only in order to achieve food sufficiency. He added the need to protect the local agricultural industries from smugglers.
Sugar farmers have raised concerns about the SRA’s latest proposal to import sugar. The United Sugar Producers Federation said in a statement on Friday that the proposal seeks to import 350,000 metric tons of raw and processed sugar into the Philippines.
However, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that the decision to import specific agricultural products, including sugar, is necessary as the country is expected to suffer a supply shortage for such commodities.
Go once again reminded government officials of President Rodrigo Duterte’s advice to always prioritize the welfare of small farmers and agriculture workers.
“Kung kailangan batikusin ‘yung Department of Agriculture, babatikusin ko po ‘yan. Patapos na po ang termino ni Pangulong Duterte. ‘Yun naman po parati ang ipinapaalala ni Pangulong Duterte sa inyo,” said Go.
“Unahin nyo po ang kapakanan ng small farmers, mga maliliit na manggagawa,” he concluded.