Activist and farmers’ groups expressed doubt over the qualification of president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to head the Department of Agriculture.
“Aside from not having any background in agriculture, it can be recalled that he didn’t have any plans to support the ailing sector during his campaign,” read as statement from the National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organization in the Philippines or Pamalakaya.
On Monday, June 20, Marcos announced that he would take the top agriculture post.
“I think the problem is severe enough that I decided to take on the portfolio of Secretary of Agriculture, at least for now, and at least until we can re-organize the Department of Agriculture in a way that can make it ready for the next years to come,” said the president-elect.
He noted that due to outside forces that are impacting food supply, as well as other agriculture components like feeds, fertilizers and others, there will be a shortage and an increase in food prices in the next quarters.
The incoming president said the emergency measures that the government had already taken “will not be sufficient in the long run.”
“That’s why we have to plan in a more thorough fashion than just responding,” he said, adding that his administration will prioritize agriculture and speed up the development of the sector.
“We are going back to basics and we will rebuild the value-chain of agriculture,” said Marcos.
In a statement, farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said “a thousand and one problems” await Marcos at the Department of Agriculture.
“Among the tall order for Marcos Jr. as Agri chief is to address the skyrocketing prices of fertilizer that is hurting farmers,” said Danilo Ramos, KMP chairperson.
He said the president-elect “should brace himself to be deluged with long-standing issues and problems concerning the agriculture sector.”
Ramos said another immediate issue that Marcos will face is the Rice Liberalization Law that “wreaked havoc” on the livelihood of rice farmers.
“Marcos Jr. will also have to solve the rampant and unstoppable smuggling and illegal importation of vegetables and agricultural products mostly from China,” said Ramos.