Tolentino, Mangudadatu vow agricultural reform

By Ben Rosario

BACOLOD CITY – Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial bets former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino and Rep. Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu vowed to prioritize agricultural reform legislation and called for measures that would immediately address concerns aired by farmers and fishermen.

Interviewed here, Tolentino called for the stricter implementation of Republic Act 1000 or the Agricultural Credit Reform Act to swiftly open credit to farmers and fishermen that would give them a fighting chance against the effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial bets Rep. Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu and former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)
Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial bets Rep. Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu and former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

He said the agri-agra law is another source of fund that would be helpful in fighting off El Nino but it should be easily accessed by the agircultural sector.

Tolentino lamented that despite the trillions of pesos in available funds for agricultural credit, farmers and fishermen do not avail themselves of the fund because of the paperwork involved in applying for loans.

He backed efforts in Congress to amend the law in order to allow better access to borrowing, adding that loans should be made easily available due to adverse effects of El Niño.

On the other hand, Mangudadatu told reporters here that he will push for the creation of a separate government department that focuses on the development of the fishing and aquaculture industry and address plight of the fisherfolk in the country.

Mangudadatu, vice chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Resources, said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources should be transformed into a full government department so that the problems in the industry will be addressed faster and allow the industry to grow.

The Maguindanao solon noted that the move will strengthen further the Philippines position as the top fishing country in the Asia-Pacific region and has the highest marine diversity.

Mangudadatu grew up in a community of fisherfolk and has developed a sense to explore and to develop organic fish farming business. His initiative later expanded into 300 hectares of fish farms that served as a major supplier of fish products in Mindanao provinces.

Meanwhile, Tolentino called on local government units to declare a state of emergency as the dry spell affecting the country could trigger serious productivity problems that would run to trillions of pesos until September 2019.

 
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