Farmers' group willing to give Kiko a chance

Posted at 05/06/2014 11:20 AM | Updated as of 05/06/2014 1:32 PM

MANILA -- The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said it sees former senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan's appointment as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization as an admission of the ineptitude of the agriculture department following a failed rice sufficiency program.

But KMP chairman Rafael Mariano said his group is willing to give Pangilinan a chance to lay out his policies and reforms.

''Ang pagkakatalaga ba kay Pangilinan as presidential adviser ay pag-amin ng Aquino government na ang ito ay bigo sa rice self sufficiency program? Bakit pa kailangan ang isang presidential adviser kung ang nakatalagang secretary ng agriculture, administration ng National Food Authority at National Irrigation Administration ay ginagawa ang kanilang mga tungkulin?'' Mariano said.

Mariano noted that while Pangilinan may be familiar with the country's agriculture situation, his entry into the Aquino cabinet faces a host of challenges.

These include the zero budget for repair of existing irrigation facilities of the NIA, the issue of rice smuggling and overpricing, and the lack of true land reform.

''Malaking hamon ang kinakaharap ni Secretary Kiko…dahil nandyan ang National Irrigation Administration. Walang ibinigay ngayong taon ni isang sentimo sa rehab of existing irrigation facilities,'' he said.

''Maraming usapin iyan dahil ang marami sa mga magsasaka ang may back accounts sa unpaid irrigation services fees… Iyung usapin ng napakaraming kaso ng conversion ng mga lupaing agricultural, lalo na yung sa food production…Sa NFA naman may alleged overpricing of imported rice. Iyung usapin ng cartel sa bigas, rice smuggling, at maling patakaran ng NFA as buyer and last resort and dependence on importation sa bigas kaysa palakasin produksyon natin." - ANC