Sen. Pangilinan vows to develop PH agriculture, protect farmers

NEWLY elected Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan vowed to modernize the agricultural sector and ensure the sustainability of farming and fisheries in the Philippines.

Pangilinan, who served as the first Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM) under then President Benigno Aguino III, said developing the agricultural sector of the country would help alleviate poverty.

“[If] you shape up agriculture, you can stop poverty. I’d like to come up with programs wherein people will go into farming and earn from farming,” Pangilinan said in a interview. IMG_3005

He pledged to push for the rights of farmers and fisher folks through giving emphasis on their health and education benefits and opportunities.

“I would like to build and support numerous programs wherein the farmers and fishermen of our country would be protected,” Pangilinan said. “Our farmers deserve respect and protection. They lift up this country from the grass roots of poverty,” he added.

Pangilinan explained that the famers and fisher folks have supported and fed the Philippines for decades, but they have remained poverty-stricken.

“Farmers barely make over P 20,000 every year and the land they own are most times not sufficient or not big enough,” Pangilinan said. “Most of the time, they are abused and do not get to exercise the rights they are entitled to.

Furthermore, the country’s agricultural sector has seen a steady decline in the past decades. Agriculture’s share of the Philippine economy has shrunk to just over ten percent from more than 30 percent in the 1960’s and 1970’S.

Up to this date, about a third of the country’s workers are employed in the farm sector, leading to high poverty rate.

According to the statement of Pangilinan, farmers, fisher folks and people who are either directly and indirectly employed in the agricultural sector make up almost 60 percent of the country’s labor force.

Paradigm shift

 Agriculture is the foundation and backbone of every nation, especially the Philippines. However, it is harrowing to say that the general mentality of the public towards this “tedious” work is that it is a low-income profession and it is associated with poverty, Pangilinan said.

“People have no interest in farming because they think that it is for poor people. What they do not realize is that there is profit in farming,” Pangilinan said. “We need to change the notion of the masses.”

He said there is a need to educate the people on farming and raise the awareness that farming should not be equated to poverty.

Youth on agriculture

Pangilinan said young people can contribute in the development of Philippine agriculture through appreciating and taking up farming.

He said the lack of interest in farming among the youth could be a big problem in the future.

“If the new generation of Filipinos don’t want to farm anymore, that’s really a serious challenge,” Pangilinan said.

The average Filipino farmer is 56 years old and most of their children do not want to take up farming again because they think it is the reason why they are poor, he added.

“I would like to see young people go into farming and the only reason they would go to farming is that if it is profitable or if it gives them good income,” Pangilinan said. “I would like to like to come up with a programs wherein young people would be more incline to farming.”

He cited backyard farming as one activity that could possibly get the attention of the youth.

“I started with backyard farming and you really get a lot from it. We should get back to this and see how it helps us,” he said.

Pangilinan highlighted the youth’s inclination to modern developments in technology as small-scale distractions.

“Our youth are now focused on technology and that is not completely a bad thing. However, I encourage them to go out of their houses and see farming as an activity they would want to get in to to help the nation,” he said.

He said that there are young people who propagated medical herbs in every backyard in a number of barangays and that is something that should be encouraged.

On education

Aside from the country’s agricultural sector, Pangilinan also vowed to improve education through supporting state universities.

“Education will always be an important factor in the advancement of our country and so I would like to strengthen and provide opportunities for education,” Pangilinan said.

He promised to expand scholarships and ‘study now, pay later’ programs “so that anyone who wants to study has access to quality education.”

Nation building

Furthermore, Pangilinan encouraged the youth to actively partake in nation building, emphasizing their critical role.

“Young people should be involved in shaping the nation. The real challenge of our country is how we find solutions. The government cannot do it alone. We need the support and commitment of young people,” Pangilinan said.

The problem is that people criticize the government, but fail to do their jobs as active citizens. The country has a multitude of problems, but there are a multitude of solutions as well, he said.

“It is so easy to complain, that is the easiest thing to do. The government is just one and the citizens should help because that is part of our democratic lives. Criticisms are necessary so we could learn what to contribute to save the nation,” Pangilinan said.

In addition, Pangilinan urged the people to come together, solve errands faster, stay committed and have one common vision.

As the former PAFSAM, Pangilinan was in charge of four agencies transferred to the office of the president: the National Food Authority, the National Irrigation Administration, the Fertilizer and Pesticide authority and the Philippine Coconut Authority.

He said during previous his terms as legislator, he was able to bring down the price of rice, control the cocolisap infestation, weave P 30 billion worth of irrigation projects and pass a number of bills in Congress, including the Coco Levy Bill for the benefit and livelihood of the farmers of the Philippines.

Pangilinan, a former Quezon City councilor, won a seat at the Senate in 2001 and was re-elected in 2007. In the recently concluded national elections last May 9, he garnered over blank million votes, securing a fresh term as senator. ###


Assessment on the Philippine Media’s Coverage of the 2016 Elections

MAY 5, 2016

On May 9, Monday, the Filipino people will once again elect new leaders, including the 16th president of the republic, to lead the country towards socio-economic and political progress and change.

It must be remembered that the National Elections are not only isolated in history, but serve as significant decision points, providing an opportunity for people to choose what they want – to continue what has been started by the previous administrations or clamor for change.

James Jimenez, director of the National Commission on Elections, echoed that people should not take elections for granted for elections are important series in the people’s democratic lives.

“People need to appreciate that elections are not just routines happening. You can either continue what you started or start on an entirely different direction,” Jimenez said in a forum at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) last November 25, 2015.

The media, an influential institution and a vital communication tool in society, has an imperative role in the authenticity of the elections. Acting as a watchdog or a surveillance camera, its role is to help people take a side and choose the right leaders. It is true that politicians make a lot of promises during campaign periods and the media has the capability and enough resources to expose the emptiness of the politicians’ words.

Many Filipinos may be considered as apathetic and ignorant. Some vote based on survey results and popular opinion, without really knowing the candidates and what they have to offer. The Philippine media changed this and helped eradicate apathy among Filipino voters.

The PiliPinas debates, held in three installments for the presidential candidates and one for the vice presidential candidates, organized by different media establishments, can be considered as successful in mitigating “soft votes” or undecided votes.

Through the debates broadcasted on radio, aired on national television and made accessible online, people were able to know the candidates better: personality wise and capability wise. The media provided a platform for the masses to ask questions to the candidates, thus, exposing the vision of the candidates for the people. Aside from what the people already know about the candidates, they discovered new perspectives that will help them decide on who to vote for.

Although the media provided countless stories relevant to the election, I felt like some stories lacked depth. The media tend to focus on juicy and side stories rather than those that would matter. Why talk about the personality of the candidates when you can write a story about the feasibility of their platforms and what they can offer to the country.

Dr. Clarence Batan, the director of the UST Research Center for Culture, Education and Social Issues likewise said that the media should be raising awareness among the people on issues that really matter. People must vote based on the capacity of the candidates to address salient issues and not on personality.

On media bias, all media institutions have stands –whether they are pro-administration or not. But the media was able to stay objective. Although it may be true sometimes that there biased angles on some stories are evident, some are taken out of context or some may be exaggerated, I can say that the media gave the people what they need to see and know. There really are no good or bad stories; there are only plain news stories interpreted differently by different people with different biases. The media is not manipulating people, but helping them understand better.

My overall assessment on the Philippine Media’s coverage of the election season, on a scale-based ranking, is 8 out of 10.

Duterte hauls public outrage over rape joke; UST Profs. say Mayor still a front –runner

APRIL 2016

EVEN AFTER drawing flak for his rape joke, Davao City Mayor and presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte still has a strong hold on the presidency and can triumph in the May elections, department chairs from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) said.

UST Department of Economics Chair Emmanuel Lopez said people loved Duterte for his tough attitude and has always been “phenomenal” for his blatant remarks.

“When you talk about Duterte, he has always been phenomenal because of his straightforward comments. His outbursts are only reflections of what the Filipinos are feeling,” Lopez said in an interview.

Lopez, who was the former chair of the UST Department of Social Sciences, said Duterte’s remarks do not define his real personality and leadership skills.

However, Lopez noted that Duterte should not have joked about rape.

“Hindi maganda yung comment na yun, but it does not necessarily mean na yun ang personality ni Duterte,” Lopez said. “Exasperation niya yun on what is happening in the society. Katulad natin, kapag nagagalit tayo, kung ano ano ang nasasabi natin.”

Meanwhile, Augusto de Vianna, UST Department of History chair said Filipinos overreacted on Duterte’s comments, saying that Filipinos became too sensitive over the issue.

Filipinos want swift action and they believe Duterte can give it to them, Lopez said, explaining why Duterte has managed to keep his supporters.

In a video posted on YouTube, the Mayor was on stage talking about an Australian lay missionary who was raped and killed in a hostage incident in 1989 in a Davao prison.

“Napakaganda, dapat mayor ang mauna,” Duterte said, receiving criticism from the public, his political rivals and the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines.

Duterte has crossed the line

 Students from UST slammed Duterte for “crossing the line” and showing disrespect towards women and rape victims.

Grace Esmaya, a member of the Student Teachers’ Association of UST, demanded respect and a sincere apology from Duterte.

“As a woman, it is not okay to hear a joke about rape from anyone. Duterte is allowed to express his opinion, but his jokes are too much. He needs to show respect,” Esmaya said, adding that the country needs a leader who has respect for everyone.

For Dayanara Cudal, the news editor of the Varsitarian, the official student publication of UST, Duterte’s rape joke is unforgivable.

“I will never forgive Duterte for what he said because nobody has the right or freedom to say something intensely disrespectful and downright vile. I will never forgive Duterte for even thinking that rape can be the subject of ridicule,” Cudal said.

Cudal said she lost respect for the “fearless” presidential aspirant after he made his “crass and tasteless rape remark.”

“It is Duterte’s brand to be the fearless, machismo, ladies man. But the topic of rape is dealt with such delicate care and sensitivity. [R]ape has claimed millions of people, both men and women alike, and these people live in the shadow of their past,” Cudal said.

In his defense, Duterte claims all 16 inmates behind the hostage taking were all killed, adding that he and his brother has killed four of them.

Duterte vowed that despite his dirty mouth, he would give the country a “clean government.”

In a statement released by Duterte’s camp on April 19, Duterte apologized for his joke, but remained unapologetic for the things he has done “to protect the country.”###