LETTERS FROM DAVAO

By Jun Ledesma

SENATOR Imee Marcos minces no words in describing the fish importation as “midnight madness” which Agriculture Sec. William Dar approved. Obviously, a fiery senator cannot hold her temper any longer.  Navotas fish port was awash with freshly caught fish and here is the head of a Philippine government department approving thousands of tons of fish from China.  His reason? It is the off-fishing season in Davao as though Davao is the only fishing ground in the country.

The same is true with what is happening with vegetable growers. At a time when vegetables are rotting in the farmers' fields for a lack of buyers and transport facilities, Secretary Dar gave his imprimatur to import veggies anyway. Local market traders of course would love buying those imported goods as it is easier to unload them in nearby ports than bother going up to Trinidad Valley or elsewhere in Luzon and Mindanao.  No sweat for Dar and traders.  The sad part here is that he lends deaf ears to smugglers too. 

Sadly and ironically, there are quarters who want William Dar to be carried over as Secretary of Agriculture. Some people can really be sadistic.  

Among the last-two-minutes importation approved by Secretary Dar is rice. When he was criticized over his agriculture policies his "rah rah" boys were quick to come up with stories that rice production increased. Nevertheless, he wantonly approved rice imports using rice tariffication law as his excuse. He says that revenues derived from RTL  are funneled to farmers to help them with their farm inputs. 

Dar does not know what is happening on the ground. What goes to farmers are mere morsels. If at all production increases, this is checked out by volumes of imported rice. Thus the farmers are forced to sell their palay at the buyers’ price of ₱12.50 -₱13.50 per kilo. 

At one point, Dar justified his decision to import by claiming that the quality of our farmers' produce is bad. If we have to explain this allegation the answer will still point back at him. I don’t know whose interest is he protecting. 

Senator Imee Marcos is correct in raising the red flag on Secretary Dar going about town in “midnight madness”. We can never achieve food security if the likes of him stay like a barnacle in a sunken ship. While ours is still afloat and going he should be jettisoned for good. 

About the Columnist

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Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.