ANGELES CITY- Senate agriculture and food committee chair Cynthia Villar is again under fire from farmers after she suggested refraining from eating high-priced galunggong or round scad and instead shift to vegetables.
“She doesn’t even know that prices of vegetables have also gone by as much as 60 percent since the African swine fl u (ASF) hit the country a few months ago,” Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chair Danilo Ramos said in a statement yesterday.
Villar, already being pilloried on social media for pushing the Rice Liberalization Law, was quoted as saying : “Ang sa akin lang, kung mahal ang galunggong eh di ‘wag kumain ng galunggong diba… “Mahal na ang galunggong [kaya] wag kumain ng galunggong… Bakit di kayo kumain ng gulay? Mas healthy yun.”
Ramos said “Villar’s latest statements regarding the importation and steep prices of galunggong will surely earn the ire of millions of Filipinos especially the poor who are struggling daily with their livelihood and means to eat.”
He also said Villar’s statement “reeks of contempt for Filipinos, especially for the poor.”
“Galunggong or round scad fish has always been a staple for the masses. It has been regarded as ‘poor man’s fish’ because it used to be an affordable source of protein. How dare this Senator dictate what the people can eat and not eat,” he added.
The KMP and other militant groups have blamed the Rice Liberalization Law for the drop in the farm gate prices of locally produced palay, thus significantly affecting rice farmers nationwide.
Ramos said “the main problem here is the government’s inefficiency in controlling the prices of food and basic goods and the prevailing importation policy that has been extremely hurting the agriculture and fisheries sector since the government signed the WTO Agreement on Agriculture in 1995.”
This, even as he also urged the government to “be on the lookout for opportunist and profit greedy private consignations that control the local fishing trade.”
“It is a common norm for consignations to jack up prices of fish stocks to secure profits, eventually pushing up the retail prices of fish at the markets. Consignations usually make up of four to five middlemen,” he noted.
He said “various sectors especially fisherfolk will continue to oppose the importation of galunggong.”
Ramos lamented that “despite strong concerns raised by local fisherfolks, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has green lighted the importation of 45,000 metric tons of small pelagic fish, including galunggong.”