June 13, 2024

Bicol Express News

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Senator Villar hit for “anti-poor, anti-farmer statements”; described as “matapobre” by farmers group

Sen. Cynthia Villar. Photo from FB page

Senator Cynthia Villar was criticized for looking-down on the rural sector when she said farmers and fishermen are “ignorant of the climate change issue.”

Farmer group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) slammed Senator Villar after she declared that farmers and fisherfolk are ignorant of climate change.

“Elegance or even propriety really eludes egoistic and inept hypocrites. Stop looking down at us! Farmers are at the frontlines facing climate change and its calamitous effects. Villar on the other hand and her self-serving choices of policies are part of the reason why Filipino farmers are deep in crisis,” KMP Chairperson Danilo Ramos lamented.

During the continuation of the public hearing for the proposed 2023 budget for the Department of Agriculture yesterday, Villar was quoted to say “‘wag niyong iasa sa farmers at fisherfolk kasi sila hindi naman nila naiintindihan ‘yang climate change.”

Ramos explained that farmers have long warned against foreign-imposed policies which made the Philippines more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Decades long farmers struggle

For decades, KMP has campaigned against the “Green Revolution” scheme of Masagana 99 which destroyed traditional-organic farming in favor of chemical-dependent practices.

The propagation of hybrid commercial seeds which necessitated increasing imported chemical inputs has over time degraded soil quality and heightened pest immunity.

“Since the 1980s, we have been advocating farmer-led research and development of seed varieties and other farming technologies. But alas, government officials acted as if they have nothing to learn from peasants. Because of this, they become part of the problem,” Ramos lamented. For KMP, Villar has been no different.

“Do nothing” committee chairmanship

“Since 2013, Villar has hogged the chairmanship of powerful Senate committees on agriculture and food, agrarian reform, and environment and natural resources. What has she done for the sector since? After almost a decade, rice imports and food prices are at record-high, agricultural smuggling proliferates, farmer incomes are plunging, and most farms remain rain-dependent for water — the long list can go on,” the farmer leader said.

Villar first won a Senate seat in 2013 and succeeded then-Senator Francis Pangilinan as the chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

In 2017 she became chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, succeeding Senator Loren Legarda.

In 2019, the Committee on Agriculture and Food and the Committee on Agrarian Reform were merged, as were the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and the Committee on Climate Change.

Villar took the chairmanship of both merged committees. Laws authored by Villar include the Rice Tariffication Law of 2019 which removed quantitative restrictions on rice imports.

KMP has earlier challenged Villar to sponsor the Senate version of the Rice Industry Development Act or the Food Self-Sufficiency Act.