The government’s call for people in the cities to go back to the provinces will only fail if the agriculture sector will not get adequate support.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, said the pandemic should serve as a “wake up call” to pay attention to the “neglected” sector of agriculture.
He said the government plan to send back people to the provinces will only fail, like previous programs, if there are no jobs and other sources of income back home.
“The development plan – and the budget – should all be aligned to give importance to the rural areas in order to develop the agricultural and fishery sectors of our society,” said the prelate.
Jet Orbida, founder of PeacePond Farmers Association, supported the bishop’s call for support for agriculture.
“The government continues to turn a blind eye to the sufferings and the needs of our local food sector,” said Orbida.
He noted that it was the local food sector that saved Filipinos during the time of crisis after other countries decided to temporarily stop trading.
On May 14, the National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organization decried the decision to exempt farmers and fishermen from receiving cash aid from the government.
The group claimed that there has been no clear support from the government to farmers and fisherfolk.
“The government and businesses should pour massive investment in rural areas so that they get adequate human services and jobs in the provinces,” said Bishop Pabillo.
On May 6, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the government’s plan to initiate a program that will send people to the provinces to decongest the cities.