DA cautious of reviving Masagana 99

Published May 11, 2022, 5:09 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

Marcos-supporter Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said on Wednesday, May 11, that reviving Masagana 99 which was the banner rice program of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, is doable only if it will be done differently if not totally dissimilar from the original.

Marcos’ son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is currently the presumptive president after Monday’s national elections. He has said that he plans to reintroduce his father’s Masagana 99 to solve the shortage in rice production and supply in the country.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar

In a forum on Wednesday to talk about the “Spiraling Commodity Prices: Game Plan to Survive Shocks” hosted by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines, Dar was cautious in outright endorsing the revival of Masagana 99 since finance chief himself, Carlos Dominguez III, has branded the rice program a massive failure that bankrupted 800 rural banks which had to be rescued by the government in the 1980s.

Dar knew this stressing that, “(after) Masagana 99, we have to learn lessons kasi documented lahat eto, kung ano yung hindi successful na component ay dapat irecalibrate para magiging mas successful. Ganon ang gagawin natin.”

Dar said the DA can consider the rice program if it is revised fully and the bad parts taken out. He did not go into full detail as to which are the negative sides of the Marcos rice program.

“That’s being formed in terms of enhancing the rice production program of the country. It’s working but it can be strengthened,” he added.

When asked if this meant that he is open to a new Masagana 99 version, he said, “kung ano yung analysis … kasi maraming pag-aaral yang Masagana 99 at yung mga strong points ay dapat i-continue. Yung mga hindi nag trabaho na components ay irecalibrate natin, i-strenghten natin.”

Masagana 99 was launched in 1973, right after Marcos declared Martial Law. It was supposed to resolve the rice shortage problem by increasing rice production. It however collapsed and its credit scheme proved unsustainable and led to bankruptcies as well as issues on how it did not help farmers at all.

Meantime, Dar said they will present to the new administration a P250-billion budget for the DA next year which is anchored on its 10-year strategic plans.

“We have details of the P250-billion budget for next year. We are readying, meron na kami transition document na anytime now, within the next two weeks, we will seek audience with the transition camp of (presumptive president) Bongbong Marcos,” said Dar. “Eto yung mga items na we believe must be continued by the next administration,” he added. The briefing will include the roadmap of different commodity industries.