‘Resilient’ agri is PH’s number one employment generator — Robredo

Published November 29, 2021, 8:13 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo is pinning her hopes on the country’s agricultural sector to generate employment, noting its “resiliency” even amid the pandemic.

Vice President Leni Robredo lays down her plans for the agricultural and fisheries sector during the Agri 2022 Online Forum held on Nov. 29, 2021. (OVP)

Robredo called the sector a significant “employment opportunity giver” if only the government develops and focuses on it.

“Agriculture is the number one employment opportunity giver kapag inasikaso lang natin (if we focus on it), ” Robredo said at the AGRI 2022 Online Forum on Thursday, Nov. 29.

“Ang ating pag-asa talaga agriculture, kasi iyon talaga iyong pinagkukunan ng kabuhayan ng marami. Kung tututukan lang natin, maraming mga Pilipino iyong maaalis sa poverty level (Our hope is agriculture because that’s where many are getting their livelihood from. If we only focus on it, many Filipinos will rise from the poverty level),” she added.

Robredo took note how in 2020 – the first year of the pandemic – the agricultural sector remained “resilient” and experienced growth in the second and third quarter of the year.

The hour-long forum tackled issues that affect the future of agriculture.

In the panel were former Agriculture Secretary Leony Montemayor, now head of the Federation of Free Farmers; Ernesto Ordoñez, former Agriculture and Trade and Industry undersecretary; Danny Fausto, head of the Agri-Business—Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food; Emil Javier, president and chairman of the Los Baños Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines; and Hazel Tanchuling, executive director of the Rice Watch Action Network.

READ: Robredo vows to double agri budget, pushes shift to ‘resilient’ crops

Ordoñez commended Robredo’s understanding of the plight of farmers and fisherfolk, especially because she worked with them in the past when she was still a lawyer for a nongovernment organization, Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panlegal (Saligan).

“We want to thank you, Vice President Robredo, because you not only showed us your direction, you showed us the detail in the direction because of your actual experience with poor farmers and fisherfolk,” he told the Vice President.

Recalling her experiences with these sectors, Robredo said that was the time when she realized that the root causes of the issues run deep.

“Ang naramdaman ko lang doon, kulang ng empathy iyong maraming policies na ginagawa natin. Hindi lang iyong kung papaano pinapasa iyong batas pero kung papaano din siya ini-implement at saka ino-operationalize (What I felt then, many of the policies we make lack empathy. Not only on how we pass the laws, but in how they are being implemented and operationalized),” she added.

During her time in Congress and at the Office of the Vice President (OVP), the presidential aspirant initiated programs that will help the “smallest farmers” improve their livelihood.

READ: Robredo wants Pinoy farmers to become agri-entrepreneurs

Every election, Robredo noted how candidates would discuss their “best platforms,” but what is more challenging is the implementation and realization of these platforms.

She told the participants of the forum to look at a candidate’s track record, especially in the implementation of the policies.

“Kailangan talaga tutok. And dito pumapasok iyong importance ng empathy. Dito pumapasok iyong (We need to focus. This is where the importance of empathy is needed. This is where the) importance ng lalim ng (of the depth of) understanding ng (of the) plight ng tinutulungan (of those needing help). Kasi (Because) implementing programs is one thing, pero (but) making sure that you hit your targets is another,” she said.

Robredo shared that she was always excited to talk about agriculture and learn more about it because of the opportunities it can give to the people.

A president, she believes, must empower stakeholders, especially farmers, to be directly involved in governance.