Bong Go seeks more government support for small-scale farmers

Bong Go seeks more government support for small-scale farmers

IN an ambush interview on Sunday, December 10, after attending the groundbreaking of a Super Health Center in Bansud, Oriental Mindoro, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go emphasized the need for increased government support for the country’s small-scale farmers and fisherfolks.

This call for action is in line with the senator’s efforts to alleviate the challenges faced by the agricultural sector.

Go highlighted the significant legislative progress made with the enactment of Republic Act No. 11953 or the New Agrarian Emancipation Act.

“Last July 7, pinirmahan po ni Pangulong (Ferdinand) Bongbong Marcos ang Republic Act No. 11953 or the New Agrarian Emancipation Act,” stated Go who is a member of the Committee on Agriculture and a co-sponsor and co-author of the measure.

“Layunin nitong mapagaan ang bigat na dinadala po ng ating mga agrarian reform beneficiaries dahil sa kanilang mga utang,” Go explained.

The law condones all loans incurred by agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), including interests, penalties, and surcharges. Prior to its enactment, up to 610,054 ARBs owe the Land Bank of the Philippines a total of P57.56 billion in loans. This covers 1,173,101.575 hectares of agrarian reform lands.

Go emphasized the positive impact of this debt relief, stating, “Dahil dito na-wipe out po ang kanilang utang, mas makakapokus na po sila sa kanilang pagsasaka.”

Moreover, Go firmly believes that the government should further support these farmers, ensuring that they profit from their hard work.

“Dapat po ay suportahan ng ating gobyerno ang ating mga magsasaka. Kung mayroon pong dapat na maging masaya, ay ang ating mga farmers. Dapat kumita sila sa kanilang pagsasaka,” he added.

Go then vowed to continue advocating for legislation and initiatives that supports small-scale farmers.

“Ako naman, bilang miyembro po ng Committee on Agriculture, isusulong ko po ang mga bills o batas na makakatulong po sa mga magsasaka,” he said.

Go said that a concerted effort must be made by the government in coordination with other stakeholders so that small-scale farmers receive the necessary support and recognition for their contribution to the nation’s food security and economy.

Aside from RA 11953, Go was one of the authors of Republic Act 11901, or the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Rural Development Financing Enhancement Act of 2022, which enhanced the financial structure supporting agriculture, fisheries, and rural development. This law is designed to offer improved access to credit for rural communities, particularly benefiting farmers, fisherfolk, and agri-based workers. The goal is to elevate their well-being, competitiveness, and productivity.

The senator also filed SBN 2117, which aims to provide full crop insurance coverage for agrarian reform beneficiaries, as well as SBN 2118, which aims to provide better insurance coverage and services to farmers and help mitigate the impact of natural disasters on the agricultural sector, if enacted into laws.

Earlier, Go also emphasized the importance of improving competitiveness and safeguarding local farmers and industries amid the recently ratified Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement. Go believes that with open competition as a result of RCEP, the prices of goods will hopefully decrease, and ordinary Filipinos, especially the poor and those in the agricultural sector, must benefit from it.

Go likewise backed proposals to convert idle government lands into agricultural areas to boost food production in the country.

Go has recently expressed his strong support for the Anti-Smuggling Bill, authored by Senator Cynthia Villar, which successfully passed the third and final reading in the Senate on December 11. The bill, known as the Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act, aims to address economic sabotage in the agricultural sector.

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