Ex-agriculture chief blames government policies for farmers’ grief

DAVAO CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines – Former agriculture secretary Emmanuel Piñol, a longtime ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, said on Tuesday evening that he had decided to leave the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan ( PDP-Laban; Cusi wing) and running for senator because of the “flawed agricultural policies” of the Duterte administration.

In a TV interview on ABS-CBN news channel, Piñol said that one of the reasons he resigned as secretary of agriculture was the Rice Pricing Law, which, a- he said, was distorted beyond the country’s initial commitments to favor local distributors and importers. .

“The commitment of the Philippine government [to the World Trade Organization] was only to allow the importation of rice into our market, ”he told Christian Esguerra, host of the ANC’s“ After the Fact ”program.

“We never made a commitment to flood the market to the detriment of our farmers,” he said. “It was never part of the engagement.”

“Flooding the market with imported rice favors local traders and importers. They make a lot of money out of it. Why buy from local farmers when you can generate huge profits by selling imported rice? ” he added.

He said the president was well aware, even before 2019, of his objections to policies that have caused great grief not only to rice farmers, but also to pig farmers, corn farmers, coconut farmers and farmers. marginalized fishermen.

‘No idea’

Out of respect for his long-standing friendship with the president, Piñol said he took over the post of president of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and even served as a member of the national executive committee of the PDP- Laban.

“I actually had no intention of running,” he said. “Until the situation developed where the government seemed to no longer listen to the official recommendations made by [the MinDa]. “

“Given this situation where the national government no longer listens to its own agencies… there must be someone to stand up and express this position taken by people in the countryside,” he added.

He resigned Monday from MinDa and PDP-Laban and joined the Nationalist Popular Coalition, chaired by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who will be Senator Panfilo Lacson’s vice-president.

Piñol said he had no hard feelings against Duterte, but lamented that the chief executive had been misled by his economic officials into accepting “neoliberal policies” that have proven bad for the agricultural sector.

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