Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go has called on authorities to stop rice smuggling and exploitative practices of some rice traders who take advantage of the vulnerabilities of many Filipino rice farmers.
He called for the adoption better mechanisms to protect small and poor farmers.
Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, said abuses and deception by some big traders and rice importers are added problems to Filipino farmers.
He was referring to a cooperative in Tarlac allegedly involved in rice smuggling.
Go earlier asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into these reports and hold those involved accountable.
“Mas paigtingin pa natin ang pangangasiwa ng mga kooperatiba upang hindi na magkaroon ng ganitong klase ng katiwalian. Huwag po nating hayaang tuluyang maghirap ang ating magsasaka. Tuluy-tuloy po ang kampanya natin laban sa korapsyon at kasama dyan ang smuggling,’’ he added.
(We will improve the management of the cooperatives in order to stop this kind of corruption. Let us not allow our farmers to suffer further. We will continue with our campaign against corruption which includes smuggling)
Go recounted a Senate hearing in 2013 when President Duterte, then Davao City mayor, was invited by the Senate as a resource person to talk about the issue of rice smuggling.
“Naalala n’yo po noong 2013, ipinatawag ng Senado si Mayor Duterte as one of the resource persons sa pagdinig sa Senado hinggil sa rice smuggling,’’ Go said.
(Do you still remember that in 2013, Mayor Duterte was invited by the Senate as one of the resource person on rice smuggling)
“Sinamahan ko po siya doon, ako ‘yung nasa likod niya at doon natin nakita, sabi ni Pangulo ay talagang tutuluyan n’ya itong mga rice smugglers,’’ he pointed out.
(I was with him, and I heard the President when he said that he will run after rice smugglers)
Go also asked government to prioritize the welfare of small farmers, adding that his office is always open to listen to them.
“Unahin po natin ang kapakanan nila, bigyan po natin sila ng mga dapat na kailangan nila para makabangon po muli ang ating magsasaka. Para naman sa mga magsasaka natin, bukas po ang opisina ko kung may mga hinaing kayo o mga gusto isumbong,’’ he said.
(Let us prioritize the welfare of the farmers, let us provide them with what they need to recover. To our farmers, my office is open if you have something to report)
To further safeguard and promote the agriculture sector, Go urged for the creation of effective mechanisms to protect the welfare of small farmers and other agricultural workers, especially in light of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Sa panahon po ng krisis at pandemya, ang ating mga masisipag na magsasaka ang nagsisilbing kasangga ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino bilang mga food providers ng ating bayan. Nararapat lamang na maglaan tayo ng epektibong mekanismo na mangangalaga sa kapakanan nila,’’ he said.
(In times of crisis and pandemic, As food providers of the country, our energetic farmers serve as partners of every Filipino family. It is proper for us to provide effective mechanism that will safeguard their welfare)
“Kung magpapasa man tayo ng mga batas o magbibigay ng mga assistance ay unahin po natin ang ating mga maliliit na magsasaka. Napakalaking kontribusyon po nila sa ating mga kabuhayan at ekonomiya,’’ he added.
(If we pass legislations or in the provision of assistance, we should prioritize our small farmers. They have contributed a lot to our livelihood and economy)