By Genalyn Kabiling
The government will continue holding regular dialogue with rice farmers to address concerns and promote their welfare, President Rodrigo Duterte said following his recent visit to North Cotabato.
The President made the commitment after promising to pour funds on farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, and other tools to improve agricultural production and farmers’ income.
“Let me assure you that the government will maintain regular consultations with your sector in order to determine your needs,” he said.
“We will invest in much-needed infrastructure such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, farm equipment and other tools which are aimed to increase rice productivity,” he added.
Duterte visited Pigcawayan, North Cotabato last Friday to distribute P58-million worth of agriculture assistance to farmers in Region 12. The government aid included six four-wheel drive tractors, five rice combine harvesters, 27 hand tractors, and fertilizers.
Over a hundred farmers from Libungan, Cotabato also received Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) cash cards worth P5,000.
Duterte made the trip to North Cotabato following complaints that farmers received defective farm equipment from the government last year. Some farm equipment was also left unused since they did not meet rice production standards.
In giving the latest farm support, Duterte said this was “a major step in the common goal of ensuring greater efficiency in the agricultural sector and addressing pressing issues and challenges confronting farmers in North Cotabato.”
He also guaranteed that the administration is committed to ensure food security as well as uphold the welfare of farmers in the province.
“It is my hope that farm inputs and machineries to be distributed today will reinforce the short and long term solutions that we have already implemented that aim to raise greater productivity and competitiveness in the (agricultural) sector,” he said.
Duterte, meantime, said he has an idea about the person behind the distribution of faulty farm equipment to farmers. He did not identify the person but joked about killing the individual instead for alleged deceiving the farmers.
He lamented that farmers were “left on their own, with equipment that they cannot use and if ever at all, if used, it always has a very limited time.”
“The reason is kabaga’g nawng sang equipment, way na niya maadtuhan kung sin-o. Mga intel lang na. Te mga — way ko gitudlo nga tao pero kung sin-o ga-bakal ana para sa inyo. (they have no shame, they haven’t even gone there personally to see who received it. Mga intel lang ‘yan. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone but whoever bought that for you.) P***** i**. T******* talaga ang walang hiya,” he said.
“May ara ako tao sa isip ko kung sin-o. (I already have a person in mind.) Sabi ko di bale patayin ko na lang ‘tong p***** i**** ‘to (I said I will just kill this son of a b*thc),” he added.
Duterte reminded concerned authorities that assistance to farmers should not end with a publicized distribution of the farm equipment. He said they must continue to follow up on these support services for the farmers.
“When you purchase new equipment, you should look at the after sales service,” he said.
“Kasi ‘pag may program ka, ‘di may follow up. Then tan-awon pud sa taas kung na-implement ba na. (If you have a program, make sure there is a follow up. Then persons of authority would have to see to it that it’s being implemented),” he added.