Farmer tells BBM the anomaly of the M99 program

Feb 23, 2023, 12:16 AM
Sonny Domingo

Sonny Domingo


KA MON: Mr. President. Can you stop this anomalous practice of provincial and municipal agriculturists nationwide begging for development funds from the mayors to assist food producers to produce more food to arrest runaway inflation. As if adding insult to injury the Mandanas/Garcia ruling will not help because it will be placed in the General Funds. A local agriculturist in a major town was the first to complain of this anomaly to us. And to think that their town is a major agricultural area with government facilities that only has seeds to sell or distribute part of the year instead of the whole year as mandated of their office. It has a technology and commercialization that is always close. The guard cannot even direct visitors to this national government research center or the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) as there are no employees reporting to serve the public. They are also being questioned for not being able to monitor the supply chain of sibuyas properly and allowing importarton at harvest time.

They are being questioned about the sudden spikes of demand to justify importation by favored persons with their pseudo coops. What a government waste.

PBBM: Now I understand why there is no robust campaign to produce more in the countryside.

KA MON: Yes Sir. The devolution was bastardized in the agricultural sector. The MAO said. "In the devolution the responsibility was downloaded to us, but they did not download the budget."

So how can we deliver as "food soldiers" to fight inflation. Then we have a case of you having sleepless nights, as you say. It is funny but we also have a DA with all the generals and the DILG with all the soldiers with no generals. It is laudable that you have now appointed Dr. Leo Sebastian as the new rice czar. This is what we need, now. And with your designation of a very young and able DA Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa for operations he showed commitment to prioritize FARM CONSOLIDATION to benefit our smallholder farmers during the budget hearing. This twin moves by you is long overdue. This should now awaken a sleeping DA but has senior citizens at the helm in your behalf wo I heard is sleeping through DA strategic and tactical meetings. He is also anti- farmer. In many occasions this senior DA official said that the M 99 was a success but failed because the farmers did not pay their loans. The truth is on record they did not pay their loans because of an anomaly perpetrated by rural bank technicians in cahoots with DA extension workers not sympathetic with the unlearned lowly farmers. The anomaly was that a smart guy from DA imposed a policy that was detrimental to farmers who already had some cash flow but could not buy fertilizers in the open market.

PBBM: Thanks for at least recognizing my moves to make DA a dynamic agency...except that they say I still have a sleepy senior citizen in its operations. Now what was the anomaly?

KA MON: Well, Sir the DA policy experts sitting in their airconditioned office decided that it was good to modernize Philippine agriculture by Phasing in agriculture credit. And so on. When they reached Phase 6, 7 and 8, there was still credit but no more fertilizers in the open market. And so it was that some wise policy maker at DA recommended to link the credit with fertilizer. This means that for a farmer to have fertilizer he must borrow from rural banks with a combination of cash and fertilizer component. So the poor farmers signed for the loan but only got the fertilizer and allowed the imaginary ‘technicians’ to get the cash portion (who went to town to buy their jeeps and built beautiful bungalows). When the loan matured the farmers attempted to pay it but the ‘technicians’ did not accept the payments or they (the ‘technician’) will be forced to pay the cash component. So now farmers are perceived to avoid paying their loans. The irony is most of them are dead now to defend themselves. And their children are the ones suffering the consequences.

PBBM: in that case, like what my sister Sen. Imee says we should now condone all farmer loans to give them a fresh start to also borrow from the Maharlika Investment Funds.

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