Archive for the ‘Agriculture’ Category

Kudos to Mr. Bernardo V. Lopez of BusinessWorld for raising and supporting FairTrade’s stand on the RP-China farm deals in his UPSHOT column in BusinessWorld last July 12. Yes, Mr. Lopez, we hope that GMA had the chance to read FairTrade’s position on the RP-China agri deals and will do something about it. Now that the Philippines is bound for a first-world status come 2020, FairTrade hopes that GMA will not allow China take control of our land, forest and all our resources.

Full column of Bernardo Lopez, after the jump.

DA cites benefits to farmers, and food security for the country
Trade alliance airs concerns on agri contracts with Chinese
New Agri Paradigm: Development for Whom?
Roundtable discussion on the RP – China Farm Agreements
Downloadables from FairTrade RTD on RP-China farm deals

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New Agri Paradigm: Development for Whom?
RP-China Agri Deals: Sinong Makikinabang?

You recently made a very disturbing statement: “There is a new paradigm being proposed to open new lands for agriculture so that we can give farmers a chance to have their own land and yet avoid all this bloodshed in the implementation of land reform…What I am trying to say is let’s make land reform, as much as possible, non-confrontational. Let’s open up new farms for agribusiness.” By “new lands”, you explained that the government is opening up some two million hectares of public lands for agriculture and that the landless farmers have “the first option to be there.”

We, in the broad network of agrarian reform and peasant advocates, shudder at the implications of this new agricultural paradigm. This was articulated only days after the Department of Agriculture concluded with the big agribusiness outfits of the People’s Republic of China 19 agribusiness contracts aimed at developing joint RP-China marine/aquaculture projects and securing over 1.2 million hectares of Philippine lands to grow food, fruit, flower, vegetable and bio-fuel crops for China, with the Chinese investors themselves providing the technology, direct management and marketing facilitation. These contracts were concluded without the benefit of any consultation with any farmer or fisherfolk organization, much less any public disclosure of the details of any of the agreements.

We are shocked to discover startling facts about the RP-China deals and the 2-M hectare agribusiness targets originally set by NEDA under the MTPDP, to wit:

  • Most of the Filipino firms paired with their Chinese agribusiness counterparts have either bogus identities or no agribusiness track record, e.g., Palawan Bioenergy Development Corp., Philippine China Fisheries Corp., One Cagayan Resource Development Inc., were registered only last year or early this year, while the rest (B.M.SB Integrated Biofuels Co., Negros Southern Integrated Biofuels Co., Philippine Marine Technology Group Inc., Sun Warm Tuna Fishing Corp. and E.L. Enterprises Inc.) have not made any reports to the SEC. And yet, these firms are supposed to engage in the massive development of bio-fuel, fishery and agricultural products involving hundreds of thousands of hectares and billions of peso investments! One Cagayan Resource even has as incorporators two pairs of couples and a certain Joey Candasua with no known address, who all got their CTCs on the same day (June 22, 2006) and ‘presented’ these CTCs to the Notary Public on June 7, 2006 or two weeks before they got their CTCs! Philippine China Fisheries Corp. was incorporated on January 16, 2007, or the day after the ceremonial PGMA-Premier Wen Jiabao signing of the 19 deals.
  • The DA-DENR-DAR ‘Convergence’ group has identified for agribusiness development 4.8 M hectares of ‘idle’ or ‘underutilized’ agricultural lands (on top of the 9.3 M hectares of lands presently being utilized) and another 4.0 M hectares of ‘idle’ forest land (aside from the 6.4 M hectares of protected forest and 5.4 M hectares of production forest). So what the DA-DENR-DAR Convergence group is saying is that this country, after decades of land unrest and endless conflicts over agrarian reform, has no shortage of land after all! As much as 8.8 M hectares of ‘idle’ agricultural and forest lands can be opened up for agribusiness, including the 1.2 M hectares for the Chinese investors!
  • The above DA-DENR-DAR mathematics is awful. The NSO’s Philippine Yearbook 2005 pointed out that the country had only 9.6 M hectares of agricultural lands left as of 2002. The truth is that in their rush to justify the opening up of new lands, they forgot to mention that roughly one-third of the 30-M-hectare Philippine lands are now covered by cities, towns, resorts, golf courses, highways and varied community/social facilities. The truth is that one sociological/anthropological study after the other shows that there are no tillable lands in the country today that are not occupied by ethnic communities, settlers, hillside farmers and all types of landless poor. The truth is that reforestation is an urgent necessity – with our forest cover measuring, as of 1999, only 5.4 M hectares or a mere 18 per cent of the total land area (compared to over 50 per cent forest cover for Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar; Vietnam, 30 per cent; Thailand, 25 per cent; and Singapore, 3.3 per cent, per UNDP data). Or is reforestation – and the future of the country’s generations – secondary only to the MTPDP’s new 2-M hectare agribusiness program, now being expanded to 4 M hectare target by NEDA’s Romulo Neri and the DA-DENR-DAR Convergence group?
  • There is no clear DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK guiding the two-to-four (2-4) M-hectare agribusiness promotion program of NEDA/DA-DENR-DAR Convergence group. Only an aimless and lazy FOREIGN INVESTMENT LIBERALIZATION FRAMEWORK. The concerned Cabinet members and their fawning subalterns assume that liberalizing the entry of Chinese and other foreign investors into ‘new’ lands or marine areas under long-term leasing arrangements (25 years, renewable by another 25 years), agriculture and fisheries will automatically develop, production will rise, overseas markets will be opened and we shall all live happily ever after. They forgot that we have a Constitution which expressly prohibits the leasing by any corporation of over 1,000 hectares. They forgot we have laws protecting the forest lands, ancestral domain and, yes, a Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program that still has to be completed. They have also developed an amnesia over the long history of peasant and farmer revolts against the Spanish encomiendas and haciendas, the American land colonizations in Mindanao and the modern-day agribusiness encroachments on and privatization of ancestral lands, settler lands, pasture lands and forestry lands, including the appropriation of aqua, water and natural resources. Are they deliberately stirring age-old class conflicts and re-dividing the country for their own narrow benefits and those of their foreign partners?

Madame President, please stop this madness, this mad scheming by officials who want to ruin the countryside by foisting a false development paradigm while pushing their own narrow private interests. Please stop this attack on CARP and this false pretension that this country has no land distribution problem. Please stop this subversion of our food and agricultural security in the name of an imaginary growth under the Chinese investors, who naturally want to transform the Philippines as part of their own food, raw material and biofuel security. Above all, please stop this effort to reverse past efforts to put the small farmer – owner occupier, tenant or landless – at the center of development by empowering the farmer through equitable and democratic access to land, technology, credit, support services and the market. Transforming the Filipino farmers into workers of the new agribusiness outfits and joint ventures with the Chinese is a giant step backward. It is like bringing back the encomenderos, the hacenderos, the land-grabbing big agribusiness corporations and the unreconstructed land concentrators.

What NEDA and the DA-DENR-DAR Convergence Group should have asked themselves is – what have they done to promote a development framework based on an integrated capacity-building program for the small farmers similar to what has happened in Israel, Taiwan and Vietnam? Sound rural development and agri-based industrialization, as mandated by the Constitution, are possible only if the agrarian reform beneficiaries and the small farmers are transformed and empowered to exercise leadership in land development and rural entrepreneurship. This, unfortunately, is not the priority of the scheming NEDA-Convergence group.

In the name of the generations of Filipino farmers and peasants who fought and continue to fight against past and present inequities in land, water and natural resources, we ask you, Madame President, please rein in your scheming anti-development officials. Yes, let us trade with China, but no, let us not allow them to take control of our land, forest and fishery resources! Yes, let us develop two million new or more jobs in agriculture – not by surrendering our land sovereignty to the Chinese but by transforming every Filipino farmer into a modern agribusiness producer! Yes, let us make agrarian reform a genuine instrument for progress and stability by completing it, not by subverting it!


By Marvyn N. Benaning
Published online on the April 11, 2007 issue of the Manila Bulletin

Food sufficiency and security, as well as the welfare of agrarian reform beneficiaries and other small farm stakeholders, were the primary objectives of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in forging 19 agribusiness agreements with China.

The agreements were signed by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.

Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano made this clarification in reaction to allegations made by leaders of the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA) who questioned the wisdom of the deals inked with Chinese corporations.

Serrano’s statement confirms the fear of agrarian reform beneficiaries that their land will be offered to the Chinese investors who are themselves worried about the possibility that China would be a net importer of food by 2015.

The DA claimed that the millions of hectares of land to be managed and controlled by Chinese managers will come from agrarian reform areas even as the department has not asked any single beneficiary of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) if he will consent to the deal.

Moreover, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) reportedly committed 1.24 million hectares and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) vowed to produce 4 million hectares, roughly the total rice production area of the entire country.

All the DA can say is that when it entered into these agreements, it has ensured that “the rules and mechanisms that will safeguard our farmers and our sovereign interests are in place and protected by existing Philippine laws and regulations.”

“The draft implementing guidelines on these agreements would state that the food security and sufficiency of the country shall be the utmost priority at all times,” Serrano said. “This implies that the DA has the authority to intervene in the trade of the produce of the ventures to meet the food security needs of the country.”

A Convergence Secretariat, consisting of representatives from the DA, the Departments of Agrarian Reform (DA) and of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are in the process of completing the implementing guidelines that will serve as the overall guidelines for all agribusiness investments in the Philippines.

By Marvyn N. Benaning
Published online on the April 11, 2007 issue of the Manila Bulletin

The Fair Trade Alliance (FTA), headed by convenor former senator Wigberto Tañada, has raised serious doubts on the benefits the country would derive from the 19 agreements signed by the government – which permit Chinese corporations to exploit Philippine land and sea in exchange for a P244-billion investment commitments.In particular, the FTA also said the these deals violate the 1987 Constitution that limits foreign ownership of strategic businesses and restricts foreign leases of land to only 1,000 hectares renewable after 25 years.

Surprisingly, even employees of the DA and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) have questioned the deals and asked how such a strategic move could have been made without informing millions of farmers, including beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) who would surely be affected.

Earlier, leaders of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) revealed that Chinese companies have offered to buy properties in Central Luzon and discussed the matter with several governors.

Purportedly, these companies had $ 50 billion in cold cash to engage in the buying spree of fertile agricultural land to produce rice, corn, sugarcane, sweet sorghum, cassava, fruits, vegetables, and other crops, KMP said.

FTA officials led by former Sen. Wigberto Tañada questioned the direct benefits from the deals, which were hatched late last year by the Dapartment of Agriculture.

Another issue slapped on the promoters of the deals is the suspicion that the supposed Filipino partners of the Chinese investors may actually be dummies, leading to fears that these joint venture partners may actually be mere employees.

Not only Filipinos but also US corporations have become skeptical of the 19 deals, which comes at a time when many Filipino farmers have been reeling under the adverse impact of globalization that has allowed the influx of highly subsidized foreign vegetables and other commodities as the tariff wall was dismantled.

One question put forward by the FTA was the legitimacy of the joint venture partners of the Chinese corporations like Beidahung, which is the corporate vehicle of the provincial government of Heilongjiang.

In particular, the FTA found out that a Chinese national was an incorporator of the Philippine-China Fisheries Consortium, which has an authorize capital stock of P1 million.

February 27, 2007

Department of Agriculture (DA)

Dear Sec. Yap,

The multisectoral Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade), a broad coalition pushing for trade and economic reforms supports the petition of the Benguet local government unit and the stakeholders of the vegetable industry to halt the approval of the Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) of Chinese carrots and immediately stop the importation of said crop from the People’s Republic of China.

As you are well aware of, the province of Benguet is known as the salad bowl of the Philippines producing highland vegetables such as cabbage, celery, cauliflower, lettuce, broccoli, snap beans, garden peas, bell pepper, potato and carrots. Other agricultural-related activities are monggo processing, fruit preservation, peanut brittle manufacturing, broom making, basket weaving, and flower growing. It is the province that has the biggest stake in carrots production and will bear the brunt in case the national government allows importation and entry to domestic markets of disease-ridden Chinese carrots.

Benguet produced 25,963 metric tons of carrots or roughly 75% of total country production in 2000. The province also allotted the utmost hectarage for carrots production at approximately 1,600 hectares or 46.86% with a high yield of 16.23 tons/hectare1. Yield increased to 51,294 metric tons while hectarage of harvested area went up to 2,835.49 hectares in 20022.

Almost all of the produced carrots (48,030 MT) were sold either at the La Trinidad Trading Post, Hangar and Bambang markets and distributed in major high end and wet markets in Luzon. On the same year, we had a surplus production of 3,264 metric tons which increased years thereafter when programs to boost cropping intensity and enlarged hectarage for carrots production were implemented.

Total job generated was 11,857 in 2005 and has been steadily increasing since 2003. The LGU and stakeholders are addressing gaps from pre-production to market support development and have institutionalized mechanisms to ensure that targets will be reached on schedule.

In this light, we wish to bring to your attention Resolution Nos. 06-346 and 06-356 of the Office of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Province of Benguet and Govenor Borromeo P. Melchor’s letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo dated February 27, 2007.

Resolution No. 06-346 dated December 11, 2006 stated a request that the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) defer the approval of the proposed administrative order for the importation of carrots from the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC). The resolution also questioned the dubious completion and approval of the PRA for Chinese carrots. In addition, the local government unit of Benguet and the various stakeholders in the vegetable industry are asking the incorporation in any Administrative Order of conditions and safety measures, enumerated as follows:

  1. A comprehensive study of the economic implications of the importation of carrots;
  2. The strict identification of the source of the imported vegetables;
  3. The close coordination with the Bureau of Plan Industry (BPI) on the determination of the volume of vegetables to be imported;
  4. The importation should only be done during the lean months; and,
  5. The final draft of the Administrative Order on carrots shall be presented to local stakeholders prior to its approval.

On the otherhand, Resolution No. 06-356 signed a few days before Christmas of 2006 vehemently protested the haphazard process, methodology and approval of the PRA for Chinese carrots that took less than two (2) weeks. The PRA team, External Pool of Experts, and academe-experts from the Benguet State University (BSU) have already identified more than twelve (12) pests and diseases associated with said crop originating from PRC.

The governor of Benguet was also seeking the intervention of the President in ensuring that measures and appropriate actions have to be undertaken by the Office of the President, including but not limited to holding in-depth consultations with stakeholders, prior to any importation of carrots from PRC and the approval of the PRA.

Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) is defined under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) as the process of evaluating biological or other scientific and economic evidence to determine whether a pest should be regulated and the strength of any phytosanitary measures to be taken against it3. Pest Risk Assessment is one of the three stages of Pest Risk Analysis which was crafted to help countries in the identification of a pathway that presents a potential pest hazard to domestic producers, environment and economy, the identification of a pest that may require measures, and for purposes of revising or upgrading phytosanitary policies and priorities. Afterwhich, comes the determination of identified pests, to be quarantined and characterized in terms of likelihood of entry, establishment, spread, economic importance and implication to rural producers, specific area, to human life, plant, and animals. The final determinant is the country’s capacity to manage pest risk – developing, evaluating, comparing and selecting options for dealing with the risk.

These international standards are of utmost importance to the Philippines which has been a net importing country for quite sometime and so its phytosanitary measures are long overdue for review and updating. The possibility of pest entry and harm is most likelihood to happen through various pathways, unguarded ports of entry, and lack of personnel specializing in this field.

PRA is area-specific and pest-specific. In Benguet’s Resolution No. 06-365, it was mentioned that the PRA and EPE teams, and experts from BSU have identified more than twelve pest and diseases associated with PRC’s carrots categorized as high, moderate, and low. The United States uses the risk rating for consequences of introduction, risk rating for likelihood of introduction, and pest risk potential before entry of new products4. England and the rest of the European Community would take precautionary approach which means none entry of a specific good in case there is a wide range of uncertainty. It is even a grave offense under Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 for any person to release or allow to escape, deliberate or unintentionally, into the wild any animal which is not indigenous to the country.

Moreso, Australia, a country that we’ve been in loggerheads with since 2002 on the stiff rules imposed on the importation into Australia of Philippine fresh fruits and vegetables has been getting away with its own interpretation on the international guidelines for PRA and Import Risk Analyses (IRA). In fact, the Philippines filed a case with the WTO questioning Australia’s inconsistency with its obligations under the GATT 1994, the Licensing Agreement, and the SPS Agreement5. Australia’s abuse in interpreting the four (4) remaining steps stated in the IPPC International Standard for Phytosanitay Measures (ISPM 11) coined ‘likelihood’. For them, ‘this simply reflects the fact that likelihood is often the foremost in the mind when assessing risk which is more correctly a function of the likelihood of an event, and the outcome of that event’6.

The bottom line is that right now there is unfairness and unjustness in international trade, and so the Philippine government must defend its local producers. FairTrade reiterates its support to the petition of Benguet local government and vegetable stakeholders to halt the approval of the Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) of Chinese carrots and immediately stop the importation of said crop from the People’s Republic of China. There is a need to review existing agreements with the PRC which are highly unequal and one-sided. A review and upgrading of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures of the country is also urgently called for. Please see attached resolutions and letter to the President.

We await your immediate response and pray for your favorable action on the request of our vegetable farmers from Benguet.


Original signed
Lead Convenor


Unfair rules in global trade are killing our industrial and farm products

Wigberto E. Tañada, Lead Convenor

Trade is a powerful instrument to promote growth, job creation, and sustainable development  if it is based on a clear and balanced development framework and if it provides weaker parties, such as the Philippines, space to push their own development priorities based on flexible trade commitments.

However, trade can also be an instrument in perpetuating global inequality. Was it not during the American colonial period (1900-l940) when “free trade” was used in transforming the Philippines into an exporter of cash crops and minerals and an importer of finished American goods? This colonial free trade experience, shared by many “hewers of wood and carriers of water” in the developing world, was the basis of a world divided between the haves and the haves-not.

Today, developed countries and their neo-liberal economists have been talking about free trade once again, this time to promote a romanticized notion of a borderless global economy. We are being pressed by the developed states  and even by some of our own economic technocrats  to embrace a new round of trade liberalization in support of free trade through a cacophony of trade agreements under the World Trade Organization (WTO)  Agreement on Agriculture, Non-Agriculture Market Access, General Agreement on Trade in Services, and Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights. This is what the Hong Kong’s Ministerial Conference in December this year is all about.

We in civil society know better. A decade of WTO membership and a quarter of a century of pursuing the neo-liberal dogma favoring an accelerated and one-sided liberalization have neither alleviated poverty nor increased jobs in the Philippines.

Many in the developing world have also become painfully aware of the imbalances in global trade. The issue is not further trade liberalization per se but fairness in global trade rules. Why open up to global trade the agriculture sector of the Philippines and other developing countries when the developed countries do not play fair by subsidizing their farmers to the tune of US$1 billion a day? This distorts global trade in agriculture and subverts the capacity of small farmers in developing countries to compete.

Why not recognize the right of developing countries to develop their industrial and agricultural sectors and maintain jobs in these sectors? Why undermine the power of government in the delivery of basic services, such as health and education, by opening this up in favor of transnationals and big corporations. Why reduce the capacity and flexibility of developing countries in producing cheaper drugs? Why not give life to the WTO’s oft-repeated clause on the inherent right of developing countries to a “special and differential treatment” in global trade since not all countries are created equal and have different capacities? Why kick away the ladder to higher development through a one-size-fits-all trade liberalization formula?

False Hopes

Unfortunately, our government has not clearly defined where it stands on key issues tabled in the forthcoming ministerial conference in Hong Kong. Yes, it has joined the global battle of the Group of 20 developing countries against the trade-distorting agricultural subsidies provided by the developed countries and the efforts of the Group of 30 or so nations seeking full recognition of the right of developing countries to “special products” and “special safeguard mechanisms.” But during the recent official WTO assessment of Philippine liberalization compliance, the government failed to point out the devastating impact on the economy of the existing trade liberalization program and the need for the country to have some breathing space from it. Further, we read with dismay the official claim that trade liberalization has been good for the Philippines in general and that the government is prepared for more of it.

But has trade liberalization really been good for the country?

In l994, during the debates on Philippine membership in the then newly organized WTO, I cautioned my colleagues in the Senate not to foolishly rush such membership, if no readiness program for our industry and agriculture had been crafted and if the supposed safety nets for our workers and farmers were not fully in place. The late Sen. Blas F. Ople and then Sen. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ignored our arguments, citing the imaginary gains for the economy that early membership would cause, including the imaginary jobs that such membership would create.

Today, the jury is out. Many of the promised gains did not materialize.

The proponents promised half a million new jobs a year in industry and half a million new jobs a year in agriculture. Together with the jobs being created by the fast-expanding services sector, such growth in jobs would have wiped out our unemployment problem in five to seven years. Instead, our unemployment and underemployment have deepened since. The latest figures show that we have five million unemployed and over six million underemployed.

The massive unemployment is due to the collapse of many industries such as textiles and rubber and agricultural cropping areas such as corn and vegetables. Another explanation is the failure of new industries to grow and expand. In fact, the only Philippines export winner, electronics assembly, is not even dependent on trade liberalization per se, for this industry is based on the global outsourcing by electronic transnationals to their own production outfits based in duty-free economic zones or industrial parks.

Our agricultural exports have steadily declined while our agricultural imports have risen tremendously. We are now a net agricultural importing country and the ratio of agricultural imports to exports is now close to two-to-one. Trade liberalization and agricultural deregulation are killing local agriculture.

Another reason for the colossal collapse of industry and agriculture is the failure of the government to crack down on smuggling and import dumping, abetted by the precipitate shift to the WTO’s “transaction valuation.”

This system of valuation has been widely abused by importers and corrupt customs officials to mean simply “as declared by the importers themselves” (in sharp contrast to the old home-consumption valuation based on the value of goods as sold or priced in the exporting countries themselves). Thus, we have shoe importers declaring a pair of leather shoes to cost as low as $.50 (50 US cents) a pair, which means payment of super-low tariffs of 7 percent (or $.035) and 10 per cent VAT (or $.050), or a total of less than P5 total tax for a pair that fetches between P500 and P1, 500 at Greenhills.

Homemade Tragedies

Of course, some of our problems are homemade.

As provided by the WTO, we enacted safety net laws against dumping and export subsidies. And yet, we have a weak state incapable of decisively implementing these laws.

The United States, European Union, Australia, Thailand, India, Brazil, and other countries routinely impose safeguard tariffs as high as 100 percent, or sometimes as much as 200 percent, against sudden import surges. Here, importers have no difficulty securing court injunctions against the impositions of safeguard tariffs, citing strangely the supposed “unconstitutionality” of the law. Worse, the Supreme Court upheld, in the case of steel and cement products, the validity of the injunctions against the safeguards law or Republic Act 8800, thus sustaining indirectly the “unconstitutionality” argument.

Given the glaring failure of the government to support local industry and agriculture through cheaper credit, more efficient infrastructures, better research and development, market development assistance, and so on, the recent court rulings on safeguards are truly a cause for national concern. The Philippines is discriminating against its own producers!

Another homemade tragedy is the Philippine adoption of a unilateral and one-sided trade liberalization program, which has made our applied tariffs much lower than our binding rates under the WTO and virtually equal to the free-trade 0-5 percent tariffs under the ASEAN’s Free Trade Agreement (AFTA). With our tariffs equal to only one-third of those of Thailand and much lower than those of China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, our industrial and agricultural products cannot compete, not in such an uneven playing field.

Due to this unilateral trade liberalization, imposed as part of the IMF-World Bank structural adjustment conditionality way back in l980 (and implemented vigorously since), our tariff rates are virtually the same as those of the developed countries. However, there are big differences  the developed countries maintain peak tariffs as high as 200 percent or more for sensitive products (we do not have any), they have developed a complicated system of product certification which keeps out unwanted imports (such as what Australia has done with our mango and banana exports), and they can act decisively on import surges (while we have succeeded in rendering RA 8800 inutile and in making the Philippine economy one giant ukay-ukay center for virtually everything).

A Riot of Proposals

In the meantime, the country is being bombarded with new trade liberalization proposals. Aside from those mentioned above, there are proposals for an “ASEAN Economic Community” and Priority Integration Projects (PIPs) under the ASEAN.

It was only when Chinese Premier Jintao visited the country that our officials admitted that an “early harvest program” with China had been inked. This has naturally alarmed our vegetable farmers in the Cordilleras because smuggled GMO vegetables from the Chinese mainland are the ones killing the local vegetable industry.

An economic partnership agreement is also being negotiated with Japan by a handful of technocrats who have refused so far the requests of Congress for a copy of the draft text, the tentative list of included and excluded products, and the commitments that each country is making.

The non-transparent process of trade negotiation is also extended to the Philippine-US bilateral free trade agreement, which the beleaguered Arroyo administration has recently announced as in the pipeline. If the US-Singapore bilateral free trade agreement is any guide, such a bilateral agreement with the US and other countries dangerously limits the flexibility of the country in crafting and pursuing its own development agenda. For aside from the usual zero-tariff regime, bilaterals also include non-trade issues such as investment, government procurement, trade facilitation and competition policy, the very issues that were roundly rejected by developing countries and led to the collapse of the WTO’s Cancun Ministerial in 2003.

Development for Whom?

Of course, the basic issue remains: what is the overall development framework that the government is pursuing in relation to all these trade initiatives?

For whom are we liberalizing? Are we not supposed to be winners, too? What then and where are the safety nets and adjustment measures that we are undertaking to ensure a win-win and painless transition for our society, for our workers and farmers, in particular? What are the corrective measures that the government should have by now instituted to make the rules fair and just to our very own producers?

The evidence is clear and more than compelling. It is beyond reasonable doubt. The Structural Adjustment Programs and the neo-liberal policies we have been implementing have not worked to our advantage. In fact, it has further damaged and eroded our already weak agro-industrial base.

It is now time to have a serious re-assessment of our trade and development priorities and a major overhaul of our existing trade policy regime.


Special Report published in NewsBreak September Special Edition, “How fair is free trade?”


During the commemoration of the People Power I anniversary last February 25, 2002, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called for a “new revolution against poverty” for, as she said, the true enemy of “People Power” is the scourge of poverty.

But where does this “revolution against poverty” start? Where should it be waged?

In the light of the global economic slowdown and the recession among other traditional trading partners, the Philippines clearly has no choice but to rely on it’s domestic economy to realize positive and higher growth through increased domestic consumption greater exchanges of goods and services among the regions, and more productive linkages between industry and agriculture. With a population of around 80 million in an archipelago of 7,000 islands, a domestic-led growth is not only feasible but also sustainable.

Unfortunately, the Philippine agro-industrial base has been badly eroded during the three decades. Instead of crafting an enabling agro-industrial programs some of our policy makers simply pushed for a one-sided type of economic liberalization such as the unilateral tariff reductions for the industrial and agricultural sectors that have caused the collapse or near ruin of many local industries such as steel, cement, tile, rubber, battery, garments, poultry, shoes, coconut, rice, onion, and garlic. This is in sharp contrast to what other countries did, for example, the People’s Republic of China which opted for gradual and calibrated liberalization program side with the accelerated strengthening and modernization of industry and agriculture, supplemented with hard bargaining with institutions such as the World Trade Organization.

With the radical reduction of tariffs, our industries and agricultural sector have been devastated by the unimpeded flow of foreign goods that eat into our domestic market displacing locally manufactured or grown products. Since it is cheaper to import than to manufacture in a high-cost economic environment, many manufacturing concerns have either fled the country to cheaper havens have been shut down, or in some cases, simply converted into trading or importing operations. And despite the existing regime of low tariffs, the country is still being flooded with duty-free and tax-free imports that are smuggled into

the country, shipload by shipload, right under the noses of our customs officials and police officers.

Clearly we cannot benefit from the stimulating impact of additional consumer spending (and ‘holiday economics’ allowing employees more days off) if our own industries are not protected against the unfair and predatory practices of foreign competitors and from rampant smuggling. What is the value added to our economy if imported goods dominate the market rather than the goods made by tax-paying Filipino working and local businesses that benefit communities?

And what is worse, while we continue to maintain an open economy, our own export luxuries are unable to freely enter the markets of other countries. For examples, Philippine fruits can enter Australia only after undergoing strict, costly and time-consuming phyto-sanitary screening process, while Philippine tuna can only land in Europe at an effective tariff rate of 30 percent.

Thus, if we are to combat poverty in these difficult times, we must begin by defending and reviving our own industries and agriculture. We must protect the jobs of our workers and the livelihood of our farmers. We must promote and patronize the products of our local producers. We must support the enterprise of our domestic entrepreneurs, both big and small. We must strictly implement the safety nets and safeguard measures for our industries and agriculture, which were legislated precisely to prevent unfair trading practices committed by other countries such as dumping excess products at prices below their own domestic selling prices.

For if we fail to protect and sustain our own industries and agriculture, even our own consumers will disappear because the collapse of industries means the elimination of jobs, as what has been happening in the industrial sector for quite sometime now. No nation can thrive on consumption without the jobs and industries to provide income for the consumers – unless we want to become totally dependent on the transport of labor despite its mounting social costs to Filipino families and values.

While economic globalization is indeed a global reality, we must arm and protect ourselves against the unfair and predatory trading practices of other countries. We should not allow globalization to be used to undermine our industries and agriculture. Globalization is meaningless, if not a curse if we, as a nation cannot enhance productive capabilities, create jobs and promote the general well-being of people.

Thus, we call for the review of Philippine trade policy. The unbridled and one-sided liberalization program to which Philippine industries have been rejected to in the last three decades must end – now! We must reexamine our trade policies in order to align them with our national interest. We must guided by the need to defend and strengthen our local industries and agriculture, our jobs and our future

We call on the Government to impose and enforce all the needed safeguards for our industry and agriculture to survive and prosper – now! The United States itself, the supposed leader and global promoter of free trade, does not hesitate to defend its own industry and jobs as demonstrated by it recent unilateral action imposing 30 per-cent tariff on imported steel. Unfettered free trade should stop where national interests are at risk.

Hence, we ask the Philippine Government to respond positively and decisively the applications for final and definitive safeguard measures on strategic local industries. The resolution on the cases currently being heard by the Tariff Commission will give a clear signal as to the readiness of the Government to deal with the unfair trading practices of other countries and demonstrate the political will to save jobs and industry.

We also call on the Government to enact stronger anti-smuggling laws and enforcement programs. We also demand a general review of the tariff policy for tariff should be used to enhance, not destroy, the productive capabilities of the country.

Finally, we call on all Filipinos to unite in the collective defense of local industry and agriculture. We, the people, must lead in the defense of our local industries and agriculture and jobs by exercising our market power. We must consciously choose to patronize locally-manufactured and grown products, and reject dumped imports and smuggled products. For we cannot afford to lose our future for a few pesos of discount.






Resolusyon Blg. 1


YAYAMANG ang Republika ng Pilipinas ay isa sa bansang lumagda at nangunang magpatibay ng kasapian sa World Trade Organization (WTO) na inilunsad noong l994;

YAYAMANG ang isang dahilan sa pagsapi ng Pilipinas sa WTO ay ang pangako na lalong lalakas ang sector ng pagsasaka, kikita ito ng dagdag na P60 bilyon na gross value added (GVAs) kada taon at dagdag na kalahating milyong mga bagong trabaho kada taon;

YAYAMANG ang  pangakong ito ay hindi nangyari, bagkus ginigiyagis ang sektor ng pagsasaka ngayon ng di malirip na krisis, na makikita sa pagguho ng maraming cropping areas, paghina ng kita at trabaho sa pagsasaka at pagdagsa sa bansa ng mga imported na produktong agrikultura mula sa Tsina, Estados Unidos, Australia, Vietnam, Thailand at iba pang bansa;

YAYAMANG sa halip na maging malakas na agriculture-exporting country, ang Pilipinas ngayon ay isang malaking agriculture-importing country na umaasa sa labas na palengke para sa pangangailangang bigas, mais, gulay, cooking oil, prutas, karne, gatas at iba pa;   at

YAYAMANG lahat ng ito ay nangyari at nangyayari, sampung taon matapos lumahok  ang bansa sa WTO, dahil sa makitid na pananaw ng mga teknokrat na uunlad ang pagsasaka sa ilalim ng unilateral trade liberalization, dahil sa walang sagkang pagpasok ng mga imports dulot ng smuggling at trade liberalization, dahil sa makitid na suportang ibinibigay ng pamahalaan sa magsasaka, dahil hindi nangyari ang mga pangakong safety nets at modernization sa agrikultura, at dahil na rin sa tagibang o di pantay na mga kasunduan at relasyon sa ilalim mismo ng WTO, particular sa Agreement on Agriculture;

DAHIL DITO, kami, mga kalahok na lider magsasaka sa National Consultation-Dialogue of Rice and Corn Farmers on Trade-Related Matters, na isinasagawa sa pangunguna ng Fair Trade Alliance  dito sa PRRM Headquarters, Quezon City, ay

NANANAWAGAN sa pamahalaan na baguhin at isaayos ang mga patakarang pangkalakalan at tunguhin ng negosasyon sa WTO at iba pang mga usaping kaugnay nito, partikular sa mga isyu ng pangsakahan gaya ng sumusunod:

  • Pagpapatuloy sa QR o quantitative restrictions sa bigas,
  • Paggigiit sa pagkilala sa mga mahahalagang produkto ng Pilipinas tulad ng bigas at mais bilang mga special products o SPs,
  • Pagtutulak sa lubos na operasyon ng special safeguard mechanisms o SSMs bilang proteksyon sa mga local na produkto,
  • Pagkuha sa suporta ng iba pang papaunlad na bansa na lubos na kilalanin ang karapatan ng mga di pa maunlad na bansa na tulad ng Pilipinas sa special and differential treatment o SDT o karapatan nitong maging flexible sa mga komitment nito sa kalakalakan, at
  • Pagsasaayos na muli ng sistema ng taripa, lalo na sa agrikultura, na hindi makatarungan sa mga local na produkto,

Resolusyon Blg. 2


YAYAMANG mahigit na tatlong dekada na namamayani sa economic governance ng pamahalaan ang kaisipang neo-liberal o pananaw na sumasamba sa altar ng free trade, na para bang ang lahat ng pag-unlad ay makukuha sa malayang daloy ng kalakal at puhunan;

YAYAMANG ang neo-liberal na kaisipan ay makikita sa mga patakarang ipinapataw ng IMF at World Bank katulad ng agricultural deregulation, import liberalization at iba pang mga structural adjustment policies, at makikita rin sa unilateral trade liberalization ng bansa noong dekada l980s at l990s at sa mga komitment nito sa WTO, AFTA at APEC;

YAYAMANG dumapa nang husto ang industriya at agrikulturang Pilipino sa panahon ng neo-liberalismo na makikita sa pagkabalaho ng mga sector na ito, sa pag-angat ng ibang bansang Asyano at sa patuloy na krisis sa pamumuhay at trabaho sa bansa; at

YAYAMANG patuloy ang pagtutulak sa kaisipang neo-liberal ng ilang mga nakaupo sa pamahalaan tulad ni Romulo Neri ng NEDA, na laging humaharang sa pag-adjust ng mga taripa sa agrikultura at sumusuporta sa mga ekonomistang gusting tanggalin ang papel ng NFA sa pamilihan at tanggalin ang suporta sa bigas at mais;

KAMI,  mga kalahok na lider magsasaka sa National Consultation-Dialogue of Rice and Corn Farmers on Trade-Related Matters, na isinasagawa sa pangunguna ng Fair Trade Alliance  dito sa PRRM Headquarters, Quezon City, ay
NANANAWAGAN sa pamahalaan na

  • Tanggalin sa NEDA si Secretary Romulo Neri at palitan siya ng isang makabansang ekonomista, at
  • Magpatawag na multi-sectoral conference para sa pagbabago ng patakarang neo-liberal sa kabuhayan batay sa isang makabansang padron ng kaunlaran o nationalist development agenda.

Resolusyon Blg. 3


YAYAMANG ang sektor ng agrikultura ay lublob sa krisis, na makikita sa paghina ng produksiyon, pagliit ng kita ng mga magsasaka, pagdami ng mga walang hanap-buhay at migranteng manggagawa, at patuloy na pag-iral ng kabalisahan at kawalan ng kapayapaan sa kanayunan;

YAYAMANG ang mga ito ay nag-uugat sa di maliwanag na direksyon ng agrikultura sa ilalim ng globalisasyon, sa kakulangan ng suporta ng pamahalaan sa pagsasaka, sa pamimili ng ani at pangkalahatang modernisasyon ng agrikultura, sa pagdagsa ng mga imports na dulot ng smuggling at unilateral trade liberalization, sa kawalan ng mga impraistruktura tulad ng patubig, farm-to-market roads, post-harvest facilities, at sa kawalan ng access ng magsasaka sa murang pautang at marketing facilities; at

YAYAMANG ang mga suliranin ng magsasaka ay lalong pinalubha ng patuloy na krisis sa implementasyon ng Repormang Agraryo na makupad, magastos at punung-puno ng mga kababalaghan tulad ng mga criminal na conversion ng mga lupang pangsakahan, mungkahing kolateralisasyon ng lupa at mga nawawalang pangakong support services,  pati na ang naaantalang paglalaan at paggamit ng Marcos wealth sa reporma sa lupa;

KAMI, mga kalahok na lider magsasaka sa National Consultation-Dialogue of Rice and Corn Farmers on Trade-Related Matters, na isinasagawa sa pangunguna ng Fair Trade Alliance  dito sa PRRM Headquarters, Quezon City, ay

NANANAWAGAN sa pamahalaan na tingnang muli ang kalagayan ng pagsasaka bago mahuli ang lahat, particular ang pangangailangan na

  • Tapusin na ang land transfer program, magkaroon ng moratorium sa land conversion, bigyan ng dagliang kalutasan ang mga nakabimbim na land cases at gamitin nang husto ang Marcos wealth sa pagtatapos ng reporma at pagbibigay ng mga support services,
  • Itaguyod ang konsepto ng food security at agricultural sovereignty, na ang ibig sabihin ay tungkulin ng lipunan na umunlad ang sektor na pangsakahan sa lebel na kaya nitong harapin ang mga pangangailangan ng bayan sa pagkain at iba pang agricultural needs na kayaning harapin ang anumang banta ng food shortage sa daigdig sapagkat mayroon siyang malusog at tuluy-tuloy na sektor na pangsakahan,
  • Iwaksi ang mungkahing decoupling at privatization ng NFA, bagkus palakasin ito sa pamamagitan ng dagdag na budget at dagdag na partisipasyon sa pamamahala ng mga lider magsasaka at pagbubukas sa mga libro nito sa publiko,
  • Protektahan ang mga watersheds at ideklarang food security zones ang lahat ng sakahan sa palay at mais.
  • Ituring ang agrikultura bilang isang national security issue na kailangang bigyan ng sapat na pondo para sa modernisasyon, pagtatayo ng mga gumuho at kinakailangang mga impraistruktura tulad ng irigasyon, farm-to-market roads, post-harvest facilities at iba pa, pagpapalakas ng mga paaralan para sa pagsasaka, pati na mga farmer training centers, at pagtatayo ng mga samahan at institusyong kumakalinga sa mga magsasaka at mga pamilya nila.
  • Ipagpatuloy ang pagsugpo sa salot na ismagling
  • Palakasin ang mga lahat ng mga safety net measures na ipinagako ng pamahalaan una na ang pag-amyenda sa gamit ng ACEF funds upang ito ay lubos na mapakinabangan ng mga maliliit na magsasaka at ang pag-iinstitutionalize ng partisipasyon ng private sector dito.
  • Gawin accessible sa mga Agricultural and Fisheries Councils ang budget ng mga munispyo at probinsya nang sa gayon ay malaman ng mga ito kung pinaglalaanan ng dapat na pondo ang pagpapalakas ng agrickultura.

Resolusyon Blg. 4


YAYAMANG tatlong milyong pamilyang Pilipino sa kasalukuyan ang direktang umaasa sa pagsasaka ng palay bilang pangunahing kabuhayan at bigas ang pangunahing pagkain ng 86 milyong Pilipino.

YAYAMANG ang kita sa pagsasaka ng palay ay patuloy na lumiliit dahil sa patuloy na pagkiling ng pamahalaan sa mga mamahaling teknolohiya ng produksiyon at kakulangan nitong magprovide ng sapat at kinakailangang suportang serbisyo.

YAYAMANG mas sumisidhi ang pangangailangang paunlarin ang pamamaran ng pagsasaka at produksiyon ng palay sa Pilipinas dahil sa umiigting na kumpetisyon mula sa mga karatig bansang may higit na maunlad na mga teknolohiya.

YAYAMANG maraming mga magsasaka at NGO sa kasalukuyan ang nagpapaunlad at nagpapalaganap ng mga alternatibo at likas-kayang pamamaraan ng pagsasaka ng palay na higit na magpapaunlad ng produksiyon at magpapalaki ng kita mula dito.

YAYAMANG kabilang sa mga alternatibo at likas-kayang pamamaraan ng pagsasaka ng palay na napatunayang nangangailangan ng higit na maliit na puhunan subalit may mahusay na production performance ay ang system of rice intensification o SRI na kasalukuyang lumalaganap sa iba-ibang dako ng Pilipinas.

YAYAMANG sa kabila ng tagumpay ng nasabing SRI sa Pilipinas ay hindi ito binibigyan ng nararapat ng pagtangkilik ng pamahalaan: P800,000.00 lamang ang inilaan na pondo dito kumpara sa P500 milyon na inilaan sa higit na mas magastos na hybrid rice production.

YAYAMANG sinasabi ng pamahalaan na pantay ang pagtangkilik nito sa mga teknolohiya para sa pagsasaka ng palay,

KAMI, mga kalahok na lider magsasaka sa National Consultation-Dialogue of Rice and Corn Farmers on Trade-Related Matters, na isinasagawa sa pangunguna ng Fair Trade Alliance  dito sa PRRM Headquarters, Quezon City, ay


  • kagyat na maglaan ang pamahalaan ng pondong katumbas ng 250 milyon para sa pagpapalaganap ng mga likas-kayang pamamaraan ng pagsasaka ng palay katulad ng SRI
  • Magpanukala ng batas tungkol sa Sustainable Agriculture na naglalayong pataasin ang kita at produksyon ng mga magsasaka at mapangalagaan ang kalikasan

Resolusyon Blg. 5


YAYAMANG ang Kagawaran ng Agrikultura ang pangunahing ahensya ng pamahalaann sa pagpaplano at pagpapatupad ng mga programa at polisiya kaugnay sa pagpapaunlad ng agrikultura particular na sa palayan at maisan:

YAYAMANG nahaharap sa matinding suliranin ang sector ng butil sa gitna ng mga polisiya at programa na naka-angkla sa paglalatag ng liberalisasyon sa industriya ng butil, at agrikultura sa pangkalahatan;

YAYAMANG ang liberalisasyon sa industriya ng butil ay magbubukas magdudulot ng pagdami at pagbaha ng mga butil ng dayuhan at direktang tutunggali sa lokal na butil;

YAYAMANG ang pagdami at pagbaha ng dayuhang butil ay magpapababa ng kita ng mga magsasaka sa palayan at maisan;

YAYAMANG kinakailangan ang aktibong paglahok ng mga magsasaka sa Kagawaran sa Agrikultura, ng RICE MASTER PLAN na maghahanda at magpapaunlad sa industriya ng butil bago pa man ang “free-for-all” na liberalisasyon.

YAYAMANG isama ang mga magsasaka sa pag-pipinal ng Rice Master Plan.

KAMI, mga kalahok na lider magsasaka sa National Consultation-Dialogue of Rice and Corn Farmers on Trade-Related Matters, na isinasagawa sa pangunguna ng Fair Trade Alliance  dito sa PRRM Headquarters, Quezon City, ay


  • kagyat na bigyan ng kopya ang mga magsasaka ng “draft RICE MASTER PLAN” ng Kagawaran ng Agrikultura
  • Isama ang mga mapag-uusapang mungkahi ng mga magsasaka sa teksto ng RICE MASTER PLAN
  • Isama ang mga magsasaka sa pagpipinal at implementasyon ng RICE MASTER PLAN

Resolusyon Blg. 6


YAYAMANG ang mga kontra-magsasakang pakana at programa ng mga neo-liberal na ekonomista, smugglers at iba pang mga vested interests ay nangyari at nangyayari dahil sa kawalan ng pagkakaisa sa pagkilos at pananaw ng iba’t ibang samahan sa pagsasaka, partikular sa industriya ng bigas at mais,

YAYAMANG ang krisis na sumisira sa sektor ng agrikultura ay nangangailangan ng isang programa ng pagkilos upang igiit ang re-kalibrasyon ng mga taripa, panibagong perspektiba sa pakikipag-usap sa WTO, IMF-World Bank at ADB, at magtataguyod ng isang ‘Nationalist Development Agenda’ at iba pang mga kagyat na reporma,

KAMI, mga kalahok na lider magsasaka sa National Consultation-Dialogue of Rice and Corn Farmers on Trade-Related Matters, na isinasagawa sa pangunguna ng Fair Trade Alliance  dito sa PRRM Headquarters, Quezon City, ay

NANANAWAGAN sa kapwa naming lider magsasaka, katutubo, muslim at lahat ng sektor ng lipunan na magkaisa o makiisa sa pagtatayo ng isang pambansang alyansa o kilusan sa pagtataguyod ng farmers’ agenda sa kalakalan at sa kasarinlan sa pagkain batay sa mga mungkahing pagbabagong iginuhit ng Fair Trade Alliance at ng National Consultation-Dialogue na ito.


*Resolutions from the National Rice and Corn Farmes’ Consulation-Dialogue were also adopted at the Mindanao Rice And Corn Farmers’ Consultation-Dialague on Trade-Related Matters on June 17, 2005 at the Episcopal Training Center, Matina, Davao City. The following are the additional resolutions:


Nananawagan na:

  • Ang binabayad na buwis ng National Food Authority (NFA) ay ilaan at gamitin pangunahin sa pagsuporta at pagpapalakas sa sektor ng bigas at mais.
  • Mabigyan ng prayoridad ang mga organisasyon ng mga magsasaka na matutong makipagkumpetensiya sa mga traders sa bilihan ng palay at mais.
  • Bigyan prayoridad ang pagtuturo sa mga magsasaka ukol sa iba’t ibang mekanismo at pamamaraan sa kalakalan.
  • Tutulan ang plano ng gubyerno sa pagpapapalit gamit ng mga pananim na butil patungong high value crops.


Nanawagan na:

  • Maglaan ng benipisyo at suporta ang mga likas kayang agrikultura hindi lang sa Systems Rice Intensification (SRI), pati na rin sa biodynamic farming, organic farming at indigenous farming, at paggamit ng inbred o local varieties.
  • Palakasin ang research and development sa organic farming at likas kayang agrikultura at ilatag ang kumprehensibong teknolohiya kaugnay nito.

3.    Mga planong isasagawa:

  • Suportahan ang mga kahilingan sa WTO at Ministerial Conference sa HongKong sa darating na ika-13 hanggang 18, 2005 na may layuning palakasin ang lokal na agrikultura at paunlarin ang kalagayan ng mga magsasaka tulad ng Big Noise.
  • Palakasin at palawakin ang pagpapalaganap ng wastong impormasyon sa mga lokal at batayang antas tulad ng sityo at barangay tungkol sa WTO, liberalisasyon at iba pang isyu sa pandaigdigan at lokal na kalakalan.

4.    Karagdagang mga resolusyon:

  • Bigyan ng ‘security of tenure’ ang mga katutubo na nagtatanim ng mais at palay sa kanilang lupaing ninuno.
  • Bigyan ng insentibo ang mga magsasaka na nagtataguyod ng ‘sustainable agriculture’, at nagpapaunlad ng mga ‘indigenous seeds.’
  • Magbuo ng lokal na ‘marketing board’ na may mga kasaping mula sa hanay ng magsasaka.
  • Palawakin at palalimin ang partisipasyon ng lokal na pamahalaan sa pagtiyak na hindi nasasamantala ang mga magsasaka ukol sa presyo ng mga produkto.

Wigberto E. Tanada, Lead Convenor

Isang maalab at mapagpalayang araw sa ating lahat!

Sa ngalan ng Fair Trade Alliance at mga kaalyansa nito para sa makatarungang kalakalan at tunay na kaunlaran, nais kong batiin kayong lahat!

Tayo ay nagtitipon ngayon para pag-usapan ang isang matagal, kundi man matandang, usapin sa ating bayan – ang kalagayan at tunguhin ng industriya ng bigas at mais, na kadluan ng buhay para sa mayorya ng ating mga magsasaka at kanilang pamilya.

Bakit hindi makaahon-ahon sa kahirapan ang maraming rice and corn farmers? Bakit hindi dumarating ang sinasabing pag-unlad sa ilalim ng isang deregulated, liberalized at globalized agricultural market? Saan nga ba pupulutin ang ating agrikultura sa ilalim ng WTO, AFTA at globalisasyon? May bukas pa ba para sa ating agrikultura sa pangkalahatan at sa industriya ng bigas at mais sa partikular — kung hindi magbabago ang ating mga patakarang pangkanayunan?  Ano ang dapat nating gawin bilang isang bayan?

Ito po ang mahahalagang mga katanungang nais nating sagutin sa pagpupulong na ito dito sa Davao Episopal Training Center.

Nais kong magbigay ng ilang mga ideya na puwede nating pag-usapan o pagtalunan.

Krisis sa agrikultura,
Krisis sa pananaw

Una, nais kong banggitin dito na ang krisis na nararamdaman nating lahat sa agrikultura ay krisis sa development perspective,  krisis sa uri ng  modelo ng pag-unlad na tinatahak ng bayan.

Ang mga palatandaan ng krisis ay kitang-kita nating lahat. Mula sa 40 tonelada ng bigas na inangkat natin noong l979-82, umakyat ang ating inaangkat na bigas sa mahigit na 4 na milyong tonelada noong 1995-98 at patuloy na umaakyat taun-taon. Noong 2000 – 2004 ay 4.36 milyon tonelada at ngayong 2005 balak nating mag-angkat ng 1.6 milyong tonelada. Ang ating corn imports ay umakyat din mula sa kalahating milyong tonelada noong l979-82 tungo sa 1.5 milyong tonelada noong l995-98 at patuloy na umaakyat taun-taon. Sa pananaliksik ni Roy Ribo, patuloy na gumuguho at hindi umuunlad ang ating impraistruktura, pangunahin na ang irigasyon, ang susi sa malaking ani sa bigas. Mula sa 1.2 milyon hectares noong l980, ang bilang ng irrigated rice land sa Pilipinas ay umakyat lamang  sa 1.5 milyon hectares noong l990 at hindi na ito nadagdagan, kahit na  ang populasyon natin ay halos nadoble, mula 48 milyon noong l980 sa 85 milyon ngayong 2005.

Dumadami pa rin ang naghihirap na magsasaka. Lumalaki ang gastos, lalo na sa abono, transportasyon at pangangailangan ng pamilya, habang lumiliit naman ang kita sa pagsasaka dahil hindi kayang suportahan ng NFA sa mas mataas na presyo ang mga ani. Binabarat naman ng mga traders ang presyo ng palay sa farmgate. Kaya, marami sa mga land reform beneficiaries ay napilitan isangla o ipagbili ang kanilang mga lupa.

Ang mga bagay na ito ay alam nating lahat.

Binabanggit ko lamang ang mga ito sapagkat noong l980, ang taong tinanggap natin ang patakarang agricultural deregulation bilang bahagi ng structural adjustment program (SAP) na itinulak ng World Bank at IMF, ang sabi ng mga ekonomistang nasa NEDA, bubuti ang takbo ng agrikultura. Bubuti raw kung mababawasan ang pakikialam ng pamahalaan, sa pamamagitan ng NFA, sa mga presyo ng farm inputs at farm outputs.   Bubuti raw kung luluwagan ang pag-aangkat ng mga produkto sa ibang bayan, sapagkat ang food security raw ay masusukat sa kakayahan ng mga taong bumili, sa loob at labas ng bansa, hindi sa kakayahan ng bayang mag-produce sa sarili. Bubuti raw sapagkat lilipat ang mga magsasaka sa mga produktong mas malaki ang kita, mula sa bigas at mais tungo sa gulay, prutas at mga high-value crops. Bubuti raw sapagkat lalaki ang investments sa agrikultura sapagkat nariyan ang mga signal ukol sa hinihingi ng palengke.

At nang pumasok ang AFTA noon 1992 at WTO noong l994, sinabi nila na ito na ang pagkakataon para tuluy-tuloy ang mga patakaran ng deregulation, liberalization at privatization sa agrikultura. Napalitan ang import restrictions ng taripikasyon sa agrikultura, maliban sa bigas. Tapos bumaba ng malaki at mabilis ang taripa sa maraming agricultural products.

25 taon ng agricultural deregulation

Ano ang kalagayan natin ngayon 25 taon mula nang yapusin natin ang patakaran ng agricultural deregulation na ipinataw ng World Bank? Anong kalagayan natin ngayon 12 taon matapos ang AFTA at 10 taon matapos ang WTO?

Kayo na rin siguro ang makapagsasabi. Hindi umunlad ang agrikultura. Hirap pa rin ang ating mga magsasaka. Mahina pa rin ang produksyon ng bigas at mais, niyog, asukal, tabako, gulay, prutas at maging karne. At bumaha at patuloy na bumabaha ang mga agricultural imports dulot ng agricultural trade liberalization, dulot ng pagbagsak ng mga taripa, dulot ng pagdagsa ng smuggling, dulot ng pagtahimik ng ating pamahalaan  sa mga isyu ng dumping, sa kawalan ng safety nets ng mga magsasaka, sa kawalan ng badyet para sa infrastructures at support prices (pero mayroon para sa pag-angkat), sa kawalan ng transparency para sa operasyon ng minimum access volumes at sa kawalan ng maliwanag na programa para sa kaunlaran ng kanayunan. Sa pananaw ng mga neo-liberal economists ng NEDA, World Bank, WTO, ang agrikultura ay uunlad sa pamamagitan  at sang-ayon sa diktasyon ng bukas na palengke.  Ganun ka simple lang para sa kanila.

Hindi nila binabanggit o nakikita o nabubulagan sila na ang palengke ay may mga tao at ang mga taong ito ay may mga mukha.  Ang mga nagbubungkal sa agricultural market ay maliliit na magsasaka na walang access sa capital, sa teknolohiya, sa kaalaman, sa pag-aari ng lupa  at sa nangyayari  sa palengke — sa loob at labas ng bansa.   Ang mga yumayaman o nakikinabang sa agricultural market naman ay mga traders, mga multinationals na may hawak sa technology at global markets, mga smugglers na nagtatago sa patakaran ng free trade, mga bulok na opisyales na kumukuha ng dagliang kita sa importation at allocation ng MAV quotas.

Maliwanag na tagibang ang kalagayan sa agrikultura. Sa halip na umunlad, umuurong ang kanayunan.  Sa halip na lumaki ang exports natin, lumalaki ang ating imports.  Sa bawat isang yunit ng agricultural export, umaangkat tayo ng dalawang yunit na import. We are now a major agriculture-importing country. Ayon sa pananaliksik ni Dr. Domingo Non ng MSU ang MTADP ng gobyerno ay naglalayong paliitin ang ektaryang tinatamnan ng palay at mais upang tamnan ng mga “export winners” na produkto.  At sa pag-aaral ng mga organizers ng kumperensiya na ito, tanging ang saging at pinya, na hawak ng mga multinationals dito sa Mindanao, ang kumikita sa ating agrikultura.  Ang saging at pinya pong ito ay wala pang isang (1) porsiyento ng kabuuang agrikultura natin.  Ibig sabihin, 99 per cent ng ating agrikultura ngayon – mula sa bigas at mais hanggang sa niyog, asukal, tabako, gulay, prutas at karne – ay bagsak at talo sa ilalim ng globalisasyon.

Subalit nakapagtataka, hanggang ngayon, ang panawagan ng mga ekonomistang palpak ay patuloy na deregulation, liberalization at privatization.  Ang sigaw nila, alisin na ang quantitative restriction o QR sa bigas at ibaba pa ang  mga taripa sa agrikultura.  Ayaw nilang  itaas ang mga taripa sa agrikultura, kahit na dumarapa ang mga maggugulay sa Gitnang Luzon at Cordillera, kahit na nabubulok ang sibuyas, bawang sa Nueva Ecija at tabako sa Ilocos, kahit na nagbabagsakan ang mais sa Visayas at Mindanao, kahit na maraming magsasaka ang iniiwan ang kanilang mga lupa na nakatiwangwang – at kahit na ang mga taripa ng Tsina, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Vietnam at iba pang agriculture-exporting countries ay mas mataas di hamak kumpara sa atin!

Mga bagong usapin sa kalakalan

At ngayon, gusto pang buksan ng NEDA ang palengke ng lupa, baguhin ang Saligang Batas at hayaan ang mga dayuhang magmay-ari ng lupa sa Pilipinas. Ito ang hinihingi ng General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) ng WTO.   Kulang na kulang ang lupa para sa maliliit, gusto pa nating buksan ito sa malalaking dayuhan. Hindi matapus-tapos ang reporma sa lupa para sa magsasaka, ngayon ay mamimigay naman tayo sa mga korporasyon.  Anong uri ng perspektiba sa pag-unlad mayroon tayo?

Nariyan din si Ginoong Hernando de Soto ng Peru, ang Presidential Adviser on SMEs, na nagpapayo na ikolateral ang mga lupa sa CARP at iba pang pag-mamay-ari ng maliliit na magsasaka, para daw makautang sa bangko.  Para daw maging ‘bankable’.  Kapag nangyari ito at mukhang nangyayari na, babalik ang situwasyon noong unang panahon na mawawala sa mahihirap na magsasaka ang kanilang lupa at iba pang ari-arian.  Balik ang usury at talindua at tersiahan.  Balik ang land concentration sa mayayaman.

Ang nagbabago lamang ay ang mga mukha ng mga mayaman. Bukod sa mga hacienda o malalaking lupain, mayroon na sila ngayong  mga bangko, brokerage and importation companies, trading houses,  farm input distribution businesses at maging mga commercial malls.

Samantala,  sa WTO, may ilang mga positibong development, pero kailangan ang pagbabantay.

Pinag-uusapan sa WTO ang tagibang na kalakalan sa agrikultura sa daigdig.   Nariyan pa rin ang $1 bilyon subsidy kada araw ng Amerika, Europa, Hapon at Canada sa kanilang magsasaka.  Talagang hindi pantay.  Sa bigas, halimbawa, bawat American rice farmer ay binibigyan ng $40,000 suporta ng US government taun-taon; sa Thailand, $1,000, pero dito sa Pilipinas, $16 lamang, kung mayroon man.  Anong laban ng $16 sa $1,000 o sa $40,000?

Sa WTO ngayon, mas pinag-uusapan ang special products katulad ng bigas.  Mahalaga ito, kaya nga lang dito sa atin, kabaliktaran ang nangyayari, dahil gustong alisin ng mga neo-liberal economists ang QR sa bigas parang maging bukas na ang lahat.

Sa WTO, pinag-uusapan ang special safeguard mechanisms (SSMs) laban sa pagdagsa at pagtatambak ng mga imported products ng mayayamang bansa, pero dito sa atin gusto ng mga neo-liberal economists sa NEDA, sa World Bank, IMF, ADB at mga schools of economics na alisin ang mga sagwil sa anumang importasyon. Tuluyang at higitan pang buksan ang ating palengke sa agrikultura.

Sa WTO, mayroong prinsipyo ng special and differential treatment (SDT), na ang ibig sabihin ay may flexibility ang isang bayang nahihirapan sa kalakalan na mag-slow-down sa liberalisasyon.   May flexibility na maghigpit sa pagpasok ng mga imports.  Pero dito sa atin ayaw pag-usapan  ang SDT.  Ayaw kibuin ang isyu ng tariff re-calibration na itinataguyod ng FTA.   ‘Back-sliding’ daw ito.  Hindi rin ito kinikibo ng ating mga trade negotiators.

Labanan ng direksyon

Pasensiya na po kayo sa mahabang paglalahad na ito ng mga isyu sa kalakalan at mga nagbabanggaang pananaw sa agrikultura.

Ang nais ko lamang idiin dito ay ang katotohanan na nag-uugat ang krisis sa agrikultura sa mga maling patakarang dulot ng maling pananaw sa kalakalan at kaunlaran – hindi lamang sa WTO at sa AFTA pero doon mismo sa loob ng ating pamahalaan, sa board room ng NEDA, sa ating negosasyon sa World Bank, IMF at ADB, at doon sa mga silid-aralan ng ating mga tinatawag na schools of economics.

Kung hindi natin babakahin ang maling mga pananaw na ito, walang tigil ang pagdurugo ng ating kanayunan, walang tigil ang pagguho ng ating agrikultura at walang pagsulong na matatamo ang ating  bayan.

Kaya, kami sa Fair Trade Alliance ay nagpupumilit na itaas ang lebel ng kamalayan ng publiko, kasama na ang mga nasa pamahalaan, ukol sa mga reyalidad ng kalakalan at kung papaano uunlad ang ating bayan sa pamamagitan ng mga fair trade policies, hindi free trade policies, at paano isusulong ang  genuine economic development policies, hindi neo-liberal economic policies. Makatarungang kalakalan, hindi free trade. Tunay na pag-unlad, hindi makitid na neo-liberal policy. Fair not free trade.

Kami ay naniniwala na ang pag-unlad, lalo na sa kanayunan, ay nangangailangan ng maximum government support, hindi minimum government assistance. Mas malakas na support price sa farm input at output, hindi kakarampot na tulong. Kailangan ang level playing field higit lalo para sa maliliit na magsasaka at mangingisda, hindi mababang taripa para sa mga imported.  Hindi maluwag na patakaran para sa mga MAV products at sa  mga smuggled na bigas, mais, gulay, prutas, karne at iba pa.   Kailangan ang suporta para sa impraistruktura, edukasyon, teknolohiya, farmers organization, cooperatives at iba pa.

Kailangang ipagpatuloy ang QR sa bigas at isulong ang tunay na konsepto ng food security at food sovereignty.  Kakayahan ng bayang mag-produce ng sapat at kakayahang mabuhay ng mga maliliit na producers.

Kailangang bantayan ang WTO. Hindi dapat masakop ang pangingisda ng tinatawag na NAMA at mawalang saysay ang mga special products, special safeguard mechanisms at special and differential treatment.

Kailangan din ang sama-samang pagkilos para sa pag-unlad, katulad ng ginagawang eksperimento ng PRRM sa Nueva Ecija.  Sa aming system of rice intensification, kasama ng organisasyon ng magsasaka ang PRRM, ang LGU, ang mga agronomists sa academe, at mga opisyales ng DA at DAR para matiyak na malago ang ani, malaki ang kita sa palengke at malawakan ang distribusyon ng yaman at trabaho sa komunidad.

Sa kabuuan, natitiyak ko na marami tayong pag-uusapan sa kumperensiyang ito tulad ng mga inisyatiba ng FTA at PRRM, at gayundin ng mga usapin sa kalakalan sa WTO, AFTA at maging dito sa loob ng ating bayan.

Ang mahalaga, anumang problema o isyu ang pag-usapan, mayroon tayong maliwanag na perspektiba.  Mayroon tayong pananaw na makabayan at maka-magsasaka.

Ito ang perspektiba ng economic nationalism na itinataguyod ng FTA. Sa aming pananaw, hindi maaaring umunlad ang isang bayan na umaasa sa mga dayuhan.  Hindi maaaring umunlad ang isang bayan na hindi namumuhunan sa pagpapaunlad at pagpapalakas  ng kaniyang industriya, ng kaniyang agrikultura, ng kaniyang teknolohiya at nalalaman, ng kaniyang tradisyon at kultura, at ng kaniyang kasaysayan. Kaya nga po hanggang ngayon ayaw buksan ng Europa, US at iba pang bansa ang kanilang agriculture market.  Isyu ito ng soberenidad at kultura sa kanila.  Gayon din ang Hapon.

Higit sa lahat, hindi po maaaring umunlad ang isang bayan na hindi nagkakaisa sa pananaw ang sambayanan, na kaya nilang umangat sa daigdig sa sariling pagsisikap at lakas.

Magkaisa po tayo sa diwa ng economic nationalism.

Mabuhay tayong lahat.

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  • Founded in 2001, the Fair Trade Alliance (FairTrade) of the Philippines is a broad multisectoral coalition of formal and informal labor, industry, agriculture, NGOs and youth pushing for trade and economic reforms.
  • FairTrade seeks to promote a job-full and progressive Philippine economy through: (1) the promotion of fair trade rules and active agro-industrial policies based on the existing development needs of the nation, (2) the development of a positive agro-industrial culture to foster innovation, hard work and solidarity between and among the productive sectors of Philippine society, and (3) the transformation of an economy debased and stunted by colonial mentality, unequal trade and neo-liberal dogma into a modern, sustainable and broad-based.
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