By Genalyn Kabiling
The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) should be abolished if it could not present a viable plan to help the country’s farmers by the end of the month, President Duterte declared Monday.
In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) before a joint session of Congress, the President said the Land Bank has “marred in so many commercial transactions” despite its mandate to provide financial support to farmers and fishermen.
“You are called Land Bank but you are now the number one commercial bank in the Philippines. What the heck is happening to you? You are supposed to finance agricultural enterprises and endeavor. Bakit wala?” he said in his speech.
“I am asking Congress ‘pag wala sila, if there is no viable plan for the farmers and just all commercial transactions, abolish it and give the money to congressmen for their development funds. Mas makakatulong pa diretso eh [They can give better direct help],” he said.
He said Land Bank should go the countryside and extend financial assistance to farmers to boost their income and productivity. “Land Bank should go back to land. Why are you marred in so many commercial transactions? Bumalik kayo where you were created for, and that is to help the farmers. Ilang administration na wala,” he said.
Duterte asked the Land Bank officials to submit the plan for farmers by the end of July.
“You better decide on that, I will give you until the end of July to give me a plan or else, I will ask Congress to reconfigure you,” he added.
In September 2018, the President reminded Land Bank officials to provide easy and affordable agricultural credit support during a meeting in Malacañang. He said small farmers and fishermen should be given “instant credit” support by the Land Bank especially in times of calamities.
The President has expressed concern that these banks have not yet provided programs to support small borrowers particularly farmers since he issued the directive in 2016. He said credit access was crucial to boost farm and fisheries productivity and strengthen the country’s agriculture sector.