Imee Marcos, Dominguez, clash over ‘Masagana 99’

Published May 20, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Mario Casayuran

Senator Imee R. Marcos refuted on Wednesday (May 20) the claim of Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III that the touted “Masagana 99’” program of her father, the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos, was a failure as it bankrupted 800 rural banks that bankrolled the rice program.

Sen. Imee Marcos and Finance secretary Carlos Dominguez (Manila Bulletin)
Sen. Imee Marcos and Finance secretary Carlos Dominguez (Manila Bulletin)

In a Senate committee of the whole public hearing on government programs to contain and resolve varied problems created by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Marcos proposed that her late father’s program be revived to help farmers suffering losses and other hardships.

But Dominguez rejected the suggestion and corrected Sen. Marcos’ claims that Masagana 99 was an “effective use” of banks.

Dominguez, who was Department of Agriculture secretary of the late President Corazon Aquino, said Masagana 99 was discontinued because the rice variety it touted, developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), was highly dependent on fertilizers and pesticides that were derived from both petroleum and chemical derivatives.

When oil prices spiraled, the cost of production was so high that farming no longer became a profitable enterprise, while the credit subsidy component of the program was also unsustainable.

In a press statement sent to Senate reporters, Marcos said, “During crop year 1975–76, the Philippines finally attained self-sufficiency in rice production and was able to establish a 90-day buffer stock for food security purposes (Jesus Alix, Director, BAEcon).

“In 1977–1978, the country produced a surplus which enabled it to export 89,000 metric tons to neighbors in Asia.” – from “Masagana 99 redux” by Dr. Emil Q. Javier.

“Dr. Emil Q. Javier is a member of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and also chair of the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines (CAMP).”

Dominguez said that as DA secretary during the Aquino administration, they had to resolve many issues that Masagana 99 caused.

“There were about 800 rural banks that were bankrupted by that program and we had to rescue them,” Dominguez said.

Sen. Marcos then went on to say that “the success perhaps was not in banking, but the success was in rice exportation.”

Dominguez then debunked the Marcos claim that the Philippines never exported rice during the Marcos presidency.

Marcos replied, “I prefer to stick to the finance data for now. But in the meantime, iba ‘yung ating data, tsaka na lang tayo magdiskusyon (our data is different, let’s discuss this some other time).”

President Duterte had said he wanted his own version of the Masagana 99 program.

“‘Yung “Biyayang Dagat” niya, pati ‘yung Masagana 99, that was the time na hindi tayo nag-import talaga ng pagkain (His Biyayang Dagat [program] and Masagana 99, that was the time when we didn’t import food),” Duterte said in 2016.

In 2017, Duterte launched Masaganang Ani 200, which followed a similar scheme and aimed to raise rice yield to around 200 cavans per hectare to stop, if not minimize, the importation of rice.

The Philippines, however, is the world’s top rice importer.

This is the second time that Dominguez and Marcos have clashed during the coronavirus crisis.

Last April, Dominguez rejected Marcos’ proposal to defer debt obligations, calling the recommendation “narrow-sighted.”