(Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman addressing farmers and fishermen in the summit. Photo by Ernie Esconde)
ORANI, Bataan – 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman on Monday afternoon voiced great concern for Filipino farmers and fishermen whom she said are equated to poverty.
“Ang pagiging magsasaka at mangingisda ay katumbas daw ng pagiging mahirap. Hindi ito katanggap-tanggap,” the first transwoman member of Congress said.
She clarified though that she was not implying that nothing happened in the past years of agrarian reform but that there are still many things that government should do to help the farmers as well as the fisherfolk.
“Maraming trabaho ang nasa aming kamay, kaming mga lingkod bayan. Marami pa kaming daang tatahakin pero kailangan namin ang tulong ninyo. Kailangan naming pakinggan kung ano ang inyong mga hinaing. Kailangan ninyo itong ipaabot sa amin upang magawan ng paraan,” Roman told the farmers and fishermen.
She asked farmers if they like the Rice Tariffication Law – that was met by a thunderous “No!”
The congresswoman said she will file a bill in Congress in answer to the Rice Tariffi cation Law which she calls as the “Filipino Farmers First Act.”
“Kapag maraming imported rice bumabagsak ang presyo ng bigas kaya hihikayatin natin ang kapwa natin Pilipino na bumili ng local o Filipino-produced rice,” Roman said.
She added that under the bill, retailers are obliged to label the grains as Filipino rice: “Sino ba ang tutulong sa ating Filipino farmers kundi ang kapwa nating Pilipino.”
Roman said she would also want the National Food Authority to have enough palay dryers in their buying stations to encourage more farmers to sell their produce to the agency.
Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones and visitors from different government agencies attended the Farmers’ and Fishermen’s Summit initiated by Roman held in Orani, Bataan and attended by farm and fisherfolk from the towns of Dinalupihan, Hermosa, Orani, Samal, Abucay and Morong.
“Suportahan natin ang magsasaka, ibigay sa kanila ang suporta na dapat mapasakanila upang talagang umunlad ang kanilang pamumuhay,” Castriciones said.
He said that in the 30 years of existence of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, 4.8 million hectares have benefitted 2.8 million farmers.
“President Duterte has instructed us to finish placing under CARP the remaining targeted areas in the country before his term ends in 2022,” the secretary said.
Among the officials in the summit were representatives from the Land Bank, Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and National Food Authority.
Castriciones and Roman led in handing out Certificate of Land Ownership Award to 51 beneficiaries of land reform in Hermosa. They also distributed farm machineries funded by DAR like farm tractors, hand tractors, water pump engines and solar panels.