Saturday, January 28, 2012
While we should give both the defense and the prosecution enough leeway to present their case, it is the duty of the impeachment court to strike a healthy balance between the demands of the the trial and that of the national interest.
We just launched SAGIP SAKA yesterday. A program meant to provide government, private sector support for agriculture and fisheries. At least P100 million in Priority Development Assistance Funding has been allocated to pilot various interventions for 24 agricultural communities all over the country for the Sagip Saka.
Sagip Saka is an advocacy to achieve sustainable modern agriculture and food security by transforming agricultural communities to reach their full potential, improving farmers’ and fishers’ quality of life, and bridging gaps through public-private partnerships. It will do this through interventions in the following areas: (1) providing access to investments and credit, (2) opening access to market, (3) rolling out infrastructure, (4) strengthening research and development, (5) organizing farmer communities and cooperatives, (6) ensuring the quality and consistency of supply, (7) mitigating the risks brought about by climate change.
It is built upon five pillars of close and critical collaboration among the following sectors: (1) the Department of Agriculture and other government agencies, (2) the business sector, (3) farmers and fishers cooperatives, (4) civil society organizations and micro-finance institutions, (5) and local government units.
Sagip Saka is meant to give agriculture and fisheries the primacy that it deserves by focusing on improving the quality of life of our farmers and fisherfolk and, in doing so, building sustainable farming communities nationwide as a means to achieve food security. Only through strong public-private partnerships can we achieve this.
The 24 beneficiaries that have been chosen for the first phase of Sagip Saka are the following: five Gawad Kalinga “Enchanted Farm” projects in Angat, Bulacan; Daet, Camarines Norte; Libmanan, Camarines Sur; Victorias City, Negros Occidental; Davao City, Davao del Sur; the Cagangohan Women Association (CWA) in Panabo, Davao del Norte; Lupon San Isidro Farmers Organization in San Isidro, Davao Oriental; Panaw Sumilao Multipurpose Cooperative in Sumilao, Bukidnon; Danlugan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur; Office of the Provincial Agriculturist in Bohol Province; Samahang Mangingisda ng Brgy. Himo-Aw in Barangay Himo-Aw, Hilongos, Leyte; the rehabilitation of the Ifugao Rice Terraces for the benefit of rice farmers in the Province of Ifugao; Pecuaria Development Cooperative, Inc. in Bula, Camarines Sur; Sugar Farmers of Negros Occidental; Mindoro Ecological and Sustainable Agriculture Federation (MESAFED) in Victoria, Socorro, Pola, and Nauan, Oriental Mindoro; Construction of a fish port in the Municipality of Tiwi, Albay; the Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Council in Tiwi, Albay; Rice Terraces Farmers’ Cooperative in Banaue, Ifugao; the Federation of Mango Stakeholders of Region I in Ilocos Norte; San Jose City Onion and Other Vegatable Farmers through the Local Government Unit of San Jose City in Nueva Ecija; Amungan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Iba, Zambales; Café Amadeo Development Cooperative in Amadeo, Cavite; Kooperatiba sa Patuloy na Pag-Unlad ng Agrikultura in San Pablo City, Laguna; and coffee farmers through the Provincial Government of Cavite.
Hindi po one-shot deal ang Sagip Saka, because our focus is to make the program sustainable so that we can help more agriculture and fisheries workers and communities in the coming years. Hindi po ito charity or dole-out because every Sagip Saka community has gone through a thorough screening process, and we have a criteria for selecting our beneficiaries. We have ensured that for every Sagip Saka community, there is the presence of strong and effective partnerships between and among at least two of our five pillars.
Aside from P100 million from our office's Prioritity Assistance Development Fund, the Department of Agriculture also allocated P20 million for the Ifugao Rice Terraces, the local government of Cavite allocated P5 million for Cavite pilot projects, and the Bicol local government allocated P4 million for Bicol pilot project. We call on other local governments and government agencies to support this program and support the farmers and the fisherfolk who are the lifeblood of our communities.
The real heart of Sagip Saka is the drive to bring farmers and fisherfolk out of poverty and to give them the respect that their professions so deserve, with the belief that empowering our agricultural sector with financial stability and disposable income will also make a huge impact on our economy.
When this 60% of our labor force can afford to live better lives, they will spend more for food, for housing, for the education of their children, for some basic necessities and even some luxuries. Imagine the impact of that on consumption and spending. Imagine how much more money will flow around and pave the way for the creation of more jobs? The possibilities are truly tremendous.
We commend the Supreme Court's upholding of a ruling of the government’s re-conveyance of the 24 percent block of shares in San Miguel Corp. (SMC) acquired through coconut levy funds and registered in the names of the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) and its holding companies. While we would have wanted the entire amount of the coconut levy to go to the coconut farmers, the said amount will still be a big boost to the industry.
The next challenge would be to come up with a system that would ensure that the freed-up coco levy would go to their rightful beneficiaries. We are now studying the crafting of legislation that would ensure the proper implementation of disbursement.
The coco levy fund is needed for replanting that will improve the yield of coconuts and give the industry a much-needed boost.
The Philippine Coconut Authority reports that while the country’s coconut industry contributes 59 percent to the world’s total export of coconut products, most of the trees are aging and dying, unable to produce quality nuts.
We must end decades of injustice by ensuring that the funds are plowed back to programs that will raise the incomes of our coconut farmers and improve their profitability.
Image Source: Inquirer.net
Friday, January 27, 2012
Ang Pilipinas ay isang bansang naka-angkla sa sektor ng agrikultura at pangingisda. Iyan ang katotohanan. Dahil dito, kinakailangang nating ibalik ang pagpapahalaga sa ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda.
Mahigit sisenta porsiyento (60%) ng ating manggagawa ay nasa sektor ng agrikultura. Halos kalahati ng ating GDP ay nanggagaling sa agrikultura at sa mga industriyang naka- angkla dito.
Hindi natin lubos maisip kung bakit hindi umusad ang sektor ng agrikultura at pangingisda. Sa loob ng tatlumpung dekada, dalawang porsiyento lang ang inusad ng sektor. Hindi nito kayang tugunan ang pangangailangan ng buong populasyon sa bansa. Kaya naman po pala hindi tayo umaasenso. Mahigit sa kalahati ng ating ekonomiya ay hindi umuusad at tila napabayaan na nitong mga nakaraang dekada.
Ang ating mga kapitbahay na mga bansa na Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, at Thailand ay kumaripas sa paglagpas sa atin. Tinutukan nila ang modernisasyon ng agrikultura sa kanilang bansa, gayun din ang pag-angat ng estado ng pamumuhay kanilang mga magsasaka at mangingisda. Dito sa atin, naging malakas ang boses ng mga nakaraang liderato, ngunit walang ginawa upang magkaroon ng tunay na pagbabago sa ating sektor ng agrikultura at pangingisda.
Kaya nga ngayon, ako‟y nagagalak na ibalita sa inyo na sa ating sama-samang pagkilos ay nabigyan pansin ang ating pinakamamahal na sektor. Noong nakaraang taon, isinulong natin ang Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 (AF2025), isang adbokasiya na kinakatawan ng iba't ibang sektor na naglalayong magkaroon ng pangmatagalan at klarong direksyon para sa agrikultura at pangingisda sa ating bansa. Isa sa kongkretong resulta ng AF2025 sa pagtulak ng mga adhikain para sa sektor, ngayong taon, 2012 mahigit singkuwenta porsiyento ang itinaas ng budget appropriation para sa agrikultura. At, sa unang pagkakataon matapos ang mahabang panahon, ang ating Agriculture department, sa pangunguna ni Sec. Procy Alcala, ay tunay na nakatutok 'di lamang sa pag-unlad ng ating ani, kundi mas mahalaga, sila ay nakatutok sa pag-unlad ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda sa pamamagitan ng mas mataas na kita at mas matiwasay na pamumuhay. Ang ating tanging masasabi ay: Sa wakas.
Ang hamon sa atin ngayon ay kung paano palawakin ang ating mga nagawa at maisulong pa lalo ang ating mga adhikain.
Ngayong araw na ito, binibigyan natin ng bagong buhay ang sektor sa pamamagitan ng panibagong paraan sa pagharap ng iba't ibang problemang patuloy na humihila sa atin pababa.Tapos na po ang “dating gawi”. Kung dati walang pakialam para sa agtikultura, ngayon tayo ay nagsasama-sama sa iisang layunin. Iyan ay walang iba kundi mapayaman ang ani at bulsa ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda.
Dito pumapasok ang SAGIP SAKA, ang ating adbokasiya na naglalayong makamit ang isang sustainable at modernong agrikultura pati na rin ang pagkakaroon ng food security sa bansa, sa pamamagitan ng pagkupkop ng mga komunidad pang-agrikultura, pagyamanin at iangat ang estado ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda, at punan ang mga pangangailangan ng bawat komunidad. Magsasaka at mangingisda, tunay na mahalaga.
Pito ang natukoy nating mahahalagang haligi ng Sagip Saka. Ang mga ito ay: (1) padaliin ang paraan para magkaroon ng puhunan, (2) magkaroon ng madaling aksesibildad sa merkado (3) infrastructure, (4) pagpapatibay ng pananaliksik at agham, (5) pag-organisa ng mga magsasaka at mangingisda sa pamamagitan ng mga kooperatiba, (6) paniniguro ng kalidad at steady na supply, (7) paghahanda sa climate change.
Sa ngayon, ang inyong lingkod ay naglaan ng P100 million mula sa ating Priority Assistance Development Fund para suportahan ang dalawampu't-apat (24) na pilot agricultural communities. Sa tulong ninyong lahat, nais nating palawakin pa ang proyektong ito hanggang masaklaw natin ang lahat ng farming at fishing communities sa buong Pilipinas.
Nais nating pasalamatan ngayon lahat ng tumaya sa programang ito. Maraming salamat sa Department of Agriculture sa paglalaan ng P20 million para sa Ifugao Rice Terraces, ang pamahalaang lokal ng Cavite sa paglaan ng P5 million para sa ating mga pilot communities sa lugar na yaon, at ang pamahalaang lokal ng Bohol sa paglaan ng P4 million para sa ating Bohol pilot communities. Nananawagan tayo sa iba pang pamahalaang lokal na suportahan ang programang ito at ipakita ang pagpapahalaga sa ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda. Tunay nga silang mahalaga sa ating komunidad, gayon din sa buong bansa.
Nais din nating ibalita sa inyong lahat ang ating layon na mabuksan muli ang ACEF, ang Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, para maging grants, scholarships, at funding support para sa iba pang komunidad at programa ng Sagip Saka. Kung dati ay puno ng intriga at korupsyon ang ACEF, ngayon ay transparent na ang mga transaksyon sa pamamagitan ng malawak na pagtutulungan ng COCAFM at Department of Agriculture upang masiguro na mapunta ang pondo dun sa nararapat nitong mapuntahan.
Simula lamang po ito ng Sagip Saka. Ang ating layon ay mapayabong ang programang ito upang mas marami pa tayong maabot at matulungan na mga komunidad sa mga susunod pang taon. Hindi po ito abuloy dahil bawat komunidad ng Sagip Saka ay dumaan sa matinding proseso at mayroon tayong mainam na screening process at patuntunan para sa mga beneficiaries. Sinisiguro nating sa bawat komunidad ng Sagip Saka ay mayroong matibay na pagtutulungan ng isa o higit pa ng mga sumusunod: Department of Agriculture at iba pang sangay ng gobyerno, ang business sector, kooperatiba ng magsasaka at mangingisda, civil society organizations at micro-finance institutions, at pamahalaang lokal.
Ang Sagip Saka ay katuparan ng malawakang pagtutulungan ng iba't ibang sektor na nagbibigay halaga sa agrikultura at pangingisda. Hindi ito maisasakatuparan kung wala ang tulong ng Department of Agriculture at iba pang ahensya ng gobyerno, gayon din kung walang tulong mula sa pribadong sektor, mga NGO partners, kooperatiba ng magsasaka at mangingisda, at pamahalaang lokal.
Ang tagumpay ng Sagip Saka ay nakasalalay sa ating patuloy na pagtutulungan at malikhaing pagresolba ng mga hamong tiyak nating haharapin.
Ang tunay na pagsasakatuparan ng ating adhikain sa Sagip Saka ay ang makita nating matiwasay ang pamumuhay ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda. Isipin niyo na lamang kapag ang sisentang pursiyento ng ating populasyon ay may kayang gumastos sa kanilang iba‟t ibang mga pangangailangan.
Bakit ho sa Thailand, ang mga magsasaka ay nakakabili ng 4 x 4 na sasakyan? Bakit sa atin, ni hindi makabili ng traktor ang ating mga magsasaka? Kung hindi natin pangangalagaan at bigyan ng halaga ang sektor, niloloko lamang natin ang ating sarili na mararating natin ang developed nation status sa loob ng isa‟t kalahating dekada.
Kailangan natin ng panibagong pananaw sa mga hamon sa sektor ng agrikultura. Kinakailangan nating basagin ang lumang persepsyon at pag-iisip pagdating sa pagsasaka at pangingisda. Hindi ito marumi at mahirap na sektor; ito ay maaaring pagmulan ng kayamanan at katiwasayan.
Kinakailangan nating maging mapangahas. Kailangan natin ng rebolusyon sa sektor kung nais natin itong sumulong.
Ang Sagip Saka ay isang rebolusyon ng pag-iisip. Sana'y patuloy ninyo itong suportahan. Simula lamang ito.
Maraming salamat at magandang umaga.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
On Shangri-La's "sustainable seafood policy" and the banning of the use and sale of shark fin products
We need to remember that when we endanger the environment, we are also endangering our very source of food and the source of livelihood for up to sixty percent of our countrymen. We cannot keep pillaging the Earth until there's nothing left for our children and for future generations.
We hope that other establishments would adopt similar “sustainable seafood policies.” In fact, let us not just limit it to seafood. We urge other hotel and restaurant owners, and all involved sectors in the private sector, to start adopting sustainable practices not only for seafood but also for vegetables, livestock, and other agricultural products. It will be good for the environment but also good for business, as more and more consumers are now becoming aware of the need to take care of the environment while taking care of business and ensuring profitability.
Monday, January 16, 2012
To reiterate an earlier statement that I posted here, in response to question posed on Twitter: Impeachment is a constitutional mechanism enshrined in our fundamental law to exact public accountability from our high-ranking officials who have been accused of wrongdoing. Exacting public accountability is necessary if our society is to have a healthy respect for the rule of law. Otherwise lawlessness, abuses and disregard for the law will be the rule rather than the exception.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The Department of Agriculture and the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) hope to reopen the ACEF facility in the first quarter of 2012. The new guidelines will allocate only 30 percent for loans, while the rest will be directed toward helping poor farmers and fisherfolk in the form of grants and scholarships.
With the new guidelines in place, 60 percent of the ACEF will be allocated for grants and 10 percent for scholarship programs. The DA must now act aggressively against borrowers who owe the ACEF, on order for us to fulfill our goal of using the facility to help out our targeted beneficiaries.
The old ACEF guidelines were open to interpretation, and that could have been an opening for some unscrupulous individuals to abuse the funds. We are now trying to make it clear that the main beneficiaries should now be those looking to venture into agriculture and fisheries but who lack the competency and resources. Let's face the facts: we need more of our countrymen to go into agriculture and fisheries as our farmers continue to age. In a few years, who will till our lands and provide us food? Agri-enterprises can always go to banking institutions. Our farmers can only go to their government for help, and the new ACEF will do just that.
Friday, January 6, 2012
The time for impunity has passed, and we must now exact accountability from LGU officials who have failed to do their duty to protect their constituents. The DENR has long been calling on LGUs against illegal logging, and data have already been given them regarding disaster-prone areas. There are no more excuses for them not to do their duty to protect their constituents from disasters as landslides and flooding.
Public disclosure of the geo hazard map data will allow the people to scrutinize officials and pressure them to strictly implement DENR guidelines.
We cannot allow deaths from disasters to occur repeatedly knowing that they could have been prevented from happening. We cannot tolerate any longer the ineptitude and inaction, especially with the realization that LGUs were already given the resources and data for them to take action to save lives and minimize damage to property.
Even in judicial proceedings wherein the sub judice rule applies, lawyers of both the accused and the prosecution are routinely interviewed by the media as a means to secure information about pending cases. Lawyers for former President Arroyo are even allowed to say they are willing to "cut their balls" on national television and are repeatedly interviewed about cases pending before the Supreme Court. If this is allowed in a judicial proceeding, all the more it should be allowed in a political proceeding.
The impeachment court should allow both defense and prosecution lawyers greater leeway in their efforts to engage the media and the public. We recognize that the rules provide that Senator Judges as well as lawyers should refrain from making public comments; but be that as it may, it is my view that the rule should not be applied strictly, but applied liberally with respect to the lawyers of both the prosecution and the defense.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
The government needs to shift its focus back to the agriculture and fisheries sector. We are in the midst of a shifting paradigm wherein world economies are slowly realizing that capital and industrial enterprises are unpredictable and can be unsustainable. Much like what the US Congress is doing to protect its people, we must focus on creating opportunities from within the country, and the agri sector holds the most promise and potential.
Despite the number of calamities that have hit the country, we remain optimistic that the new year will bring vast improvements to the Philippines' agriculture sector.
With the biggest budget allocation among all agencies for 2012, the Department of Agriculture, now has the resources to come up with a roadmap that will set the course for the long-term development of the agriculture and fisheries sector.
Focusing efforts towards modernizing Philippine agriculture and fisheries will also solve our food security issues. We should tap the full potential of these sectors as we have all the resources we need to succeed. The bounty of our seas and vast arable lands are natural treasures that most countries would like to have, and we must be able to maximize these resources sustainably. It will be a pity if we continue to do so little with everything that we have.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
In light of the havoc wreaked by typhoon ‘Sendong’, where officials were scrambling for food sources, it would be wise for LGUs to utilize idle lands for crops that could be used as buffer for such eventualities.
We also urge returning OFWs to invest in the agriculture and fisheries sector because there are a lot to be optimistic about these sectors for the New Year.
The Department of Agriculture has been given a major boost with the biggest budget allocation hike among all agencies. The Aquino administration is committed to modernizing agriculture sector and this is enough to boost the confidence of our countrymen in investing in the agriculture and fisheries sector.
The LGUs must create an enabling environment and encourage these investments as they look to uplift their communities. While it isn’t wrong to use land for factories, malls, or housing, we should prioritize land for food, more so if said lands are irrigable. The lessons we have learned through such disasters as typhoons and other calamities should be taken to heart—that we must, first and foremost, secure the needs of our people, especially when hunger is on the rise.