TAGBILARAN CITY – Senator Ferdinand Bongbong” Marcos Jr. minced no words of disapproval of the irrigation service fees (ISF) that added burden to the farmers.
“Dapat hindi bayaran yan. There’s no point in imposing that fee.” The farmers cannot afford it, Marcos the son of then President Ferdinand Marcos said during the press conference in his visit yesterday to meet the municipal mayors. He said that the irrigated areas are becoming smaller now than in previous years since these facilities are already dilapidated and were not repaired. The cause of the failure in instituting repair of these irrigation facilities was the lack of funds since the budget for these were taken out, he said. Some Php4 billion have been taken out.
“It’s impractical imposing the fee since hindi kaya ng mga magsasaka,” he said. As an advocate of strong agricultural base, he said that agriculture should have been strengthened as matter of national interest.
Now that the Philippines is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration, the farmers are the “first hit” considering agriculture in the country appeared not ready and it appeared it is being abandoned.
He cited Vietnam, also an ASEAN member, as agriculturally prepared. The Vietnamese study agriculture at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños since there’s the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). And the Philippines is importing rice from Vietnam.
He also scored on rice importation that is being continued by the present administration, saying “maraming kumikita” sa importation without naming names involved in making money from importation.
He said that it’s time “we have to change, fundamental change.”
The issue of ISF was raised considering that the mega-dams in Bohol, like Malinao in Pilar and Bayongan in San Miguel, are still imposing the fee.
Militant farmers groups have assailed the ISF as added burden, saying that the fund used in the building of the dams are being paid by the people’s taxes. (rvo)