Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go is calling on the government to clamp down on rice smuggling and exploitative practices of some rice traders who take advantage of the vulnerabilities of many Filipino rice farmers.
In a radio interview, the senator stressed that while small farmers are already suffering because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, their woes continue as there are still those who take advantage of their situation.
Go was referring to a cooperative in Tarlac allegedly involved in rice smuggling. He has earlier asked the National Bureau of Investigation to probe these reports and hold those involved accountable.
The lawmaker also asked the government to prioritize the welfare of small farmers, adding that his office is always open to listen to them.
To further safeguard and promote the agriculture sector, Go urged for the creation of effective mechanisms to protect the welfare of small farmers and other agricultural workers, especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The senator also emphasized the importance of the agricultural sector and its contributions towards economic recovery even as he commended the efforts of the Department of Agriculture in supporting small farmers and promoting agri-preneurship as a viable livelihood source for Filipinos amid the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The department provided a financial subsidy to more than 530,000 rice farmers. They have released and continue to release zero-interest loans to marginalized small farmers and fisherfolk, and agri-based micro and small enterprises,” said Go during a Senate committee hearing tackling the DA’s proposed 2021 budget held recently.
In addition, Go pushed for extended support services, education, training, and agricultural equipment and facilities for farmers and fisherfolk to safeguard the nation’s food security.