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    Vice President Leni Robredo’s Response to Luz Yringco at the Townhall with Cooperative Leaders via Zoom

    Vice President Leni Robredo’s Response to Luz Yringco at the Townhall with Cooperative Leaders via Zoom

    LUZ YRINGCO: Thank you, Ann. My salute and greetings to Vice President Leni, the epitome of woman to stand for our country;the Leaders of the Coop-NATCO Partylist; the Cooperative Members who are around, good afternoon. And most especially, Happy Women's Month to all the ladies attending today.

    As a background, Madam VP, the Coop has existed for a hundred years. The first 30 years was informal and the next 70 years, formal. However, we are still longing that we, the cooperatives, will become partners of government, to be recognized as reliable partners and conduits of government programs and projects. Maybe a positive or a negative, it's in the DNA of the cooperatives that we are transparent, we are honest and accountable. This is non-negotiable, which may probably be the cause why we have not become partners of government projects and programs.

    And then we are looking at our farmers. Our farmers had been working hard and yet unable to lift up their lives. We are looking at the farm-to-market links and hopefully– initially farm-to-market links, and hopefully, farm to the tables directly of our Filipino people.

    So, agricultural production should be linked to suitable markets and then there is a beautiful law on Sagip Saka Act with– na hindi pa naintindihan ng farmers themselves who are supposed to benefit from this law in the full implementation of the Saka– Sagip Saka Act.

    In line also with our goal of really improving the income-- the returns of our farmers, we would like to be included in facilities where farmers can learn about product development that would involve the value of– the value chain and the whole of government approach on how these farmers can be linked to the value chain. The returns will really be sufficient not only for living but really for their children and their communities as well.

    We are observing aged farmers without second liners and this is a threat to our food security in effect. We are looking at a government that will really support development of second liners to our farmers. And then an important ally of the farmers is the crop insurance– access to a very stable crop insurance. At present, para siyang lights on, lights off– on and off. Sometime, we can avail of crop insurance and most of the time we cannot.

    We have irrigation facilities when inventory is presented, it's okay. However, it is not okay since others are not functional. And there are still land areas in the country which have not tasted irrigation systems.

    Finally, Madam VP, our transport sector which had been so devastated by the pandemic. Added to it is the requirement of the modernization program that they have experienced so much in the pandemic, and yet there is no back-up from the government on how to ameliorate– to give them the needed amelioration packages. The Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program implementation also is not bundled with programs that will counter or help the drivers in times of the pandemic and other calamities where the roads cannot be done everyday.

    So, these are the issues and concerns about our members and we hope and we believe that your government can really do something about. Thank you, Madam VP, and again I salute and I believe in you.

    VP LENI: Thank you, Ma'am Luz. Thank you po. Ayan, can I respond? Okay, Annie, ano? I can respond?

    ANNIELEN PANERIO: Yes, VP, puwede ka na po mag-respond.

    VP LENI: Kasi, Annie, I want to share with you 'yung partnership namin with Cam Sur Multi-purpose Cooperative. Kasi actually, it's a version of the Sagip Saka Act in the sense na, 'yung pinaka sadya talaga noong pag-mobilize ng farmers is for the poorest of the farmers to have access to mark– not just government projects but to the market.

    Kuwentuhan ko lang po kayo ng sinimulan noong nasa Congress ako, I was principal author of a Food Security Bill kaya 'yung distrito ko naging ano siya– 'yung distrito ko naging pilot siya noong– I don't know if you've heard about it, 'yung Partnership Against Poverty and Hunger. Kasi di ba, ang apart– ang ginagawa ng pamahalaan 'yung feeding program niya pera 'yun ng DSWD. So, ang ginagawa ng DSWD dina-download niya 'yun sa LGU tapos 'yung LGU 'yung parang nagbibigay ng kontrata for the feeding programs sa mga paaralan. Under doon sa Partnership Against Poverty and Hunger, 'yung mga small farmers parang dinowload 'yung pera sa LGU pero may kontrata sa LGU, may MOA with the LGU na 'yung pera 'yun 'yung gagamitin nila para pambili sa mga small farmers. So in effect, 'yung mga small farmers ang nakakakuha ng feeding program contracts with the government. Diyan sa atin, Annie, 'yun 'yung pinaka-poster girl natin diyan si– hindi ko alam kung kilala mo si Luz ng Panicuason, PWD siya.

    ANNIELEN PANERIO: Yes, Ma'am.

    VP LENI: Nagtitinda siya ng ano tofu. Na-discover natin siya– dati naglalako siya, na-discover natin siya. She was able to get multi-million peso contracts from the different-- from the LGU and the different schools, na 'yung grupo ng mga PWD's 'yung kaniyang kasama and napakalaki na niya ngayon. Nag-umpisa siya na naglalako lang, ngayon malaki na siya.

    So, it is an example na pag ang mga maliliit tinulungan magkaroon ng access, talagang ang opportunities na lumaki nandiyan. And under the Sagip Saka Act– parang ang sinasabi sa Sagip Saka Act, 'yung mga LGU's instead na binibigay nila 'yung mga kontrata sa mga malalaking mga contractors, ibigay na nila 'yun sa farmers. Exempted sila with– kasi di ba may bidding, dapat pinaka-mababa, siyempre 'yung farmers natin hindi nakakapag-compete. Kasi hindi naman sila nagpo-produce ng commercially. Hindi sila nakakapag-compete sa presyo so hindi sila nananalo sa mga bidding. Pero 'yung Sagip Saka Act, nado-do away 'yung ganoon na mga requirements basta ba bibilhin mo siya sa small farmers, exempted ka sa ganoon na requirement.

    Ito naman sa amin, 'yung Omasenso sa Kabuhayan, ang ka-partner talaga namin dito 'yung local chamb– Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Ang ginawa namin na pag-umpisa, ginather namin 'yung mga small farmers in Camarines Sur. Nine groups ito lahat– nine-nine tayo nag-umpisa, Annie, di ba? Nine groups lahat, ginather natin sila– ito 'yung mga hindi nakakakuha ng help from government– tapos nag-survey tayo. Ano ba 'yung top ten na mga agricultural products na pino-produce niyo?

    Tapos naki-MOA tayo with the Local Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Tinatanong natin sila– ito 'yung mga owners ng restaurants, owners ng groceries, owners ng hospitals, ng hotels. So, tinatanong natin: ano 'yung top ten na binibili niyong agricultural produce? Saan ninyo ito binibilli? And very revealing sa amin 'yung lumabas sa survey. Kasi lumabas sa survey, bili sila ng bili sa labas ng probinsiya. Bumibili sila sa Baguio, bumibili sila sa Sariaya, paminsan bumibili pa sila hanggang Davao for the fruits.

    So, ang tanong namin: bakit hindi kayo bumibili sa mga local farmers natin? Ang sinasabi nila, kasi hindi nila kaya 'yung presyo, kasi hindi nila kaya 'yung quantity, kasi hindi nila kaya 'yung quality. So ang tanong namin, okay pag kinaya ba namin 'yung presyo, tutulungan namin sila to produce quantity na nire-require niyo na quality, bibili ba kayo sa kanila? So, nagkaroon kami ng MOA na nag-umpisa 'yung MOA five products muna. 'Yung products: kalamansi, luya, sili, pipino, saka lettuce. 'Yun na muna, na ang usapan namin, lahat ng pangangailangan mo ngayon, kami 'yung magpo-produce, 'yung mga small farmers 'yung magpo-produce. Pero dahil small farmers ito, kinailangan namin 'yung Camarines Sur Multipurpose Cooperative kasi 'yung CamSur MPC, sila 'yung may makinarya na maging consolidator dahil hiwa-hiwalay 'yung mga farmers, ang nangyayari parang ang CamSur MPC 'yung kausap ng Chamber of Commerce and Industry. So, 'yung mga small farmers sa CamSur MPC 'yung kanilang contact hanggang maging ready sila. Tapos ang Chamber, ang CamSur MPC 'yung kausap. Ang kabutihan nito kasi unang-una, meron nang direct link sa market, 'yun 'yung number one. Kasi noong wala pang direct link sa market, nagtitinda sila sa mga biyahero na binabarat naman sila sa presyo.

    Tapos number two, ewan ko ba kung sa amin lang ito, sa CamSur lang o buong bansa, karamihan sa mga small farmers 'yung maliit na landholding nila, lahat ng klaseng matatanim nandoon. Wala silang scale, parang pag may– halimbawa sabihin natin meron silang 100 square meters na lupa, lahat ng klaseng gulay meron. Noong nag-survey kami, ang number one na pino-produce sa amin, talong. Pero ang talong, wala doon sa top ten na binibili ng mga negosyante. Ang number one na binibili ng mga negosyante sa amin, kalamansi. Pero 'yung mga farmers namin, ayaw ng kalamansi kasi it takes time, it takes time bago mapatubo nila 'yung kalamansi.

    So, talagang mahirap 'yung umpisa pero binuhusan namin ng tulong. We're able to invite DTI to give the trainings, ano ito, farmer-entrepreneurship trainings, 'yung DA, DAR, saka DOST on-board. So, parang naging consolidator lang 'yung Office of the Vice President noong mga programa ng gobyerno na maibuhos sa mga farmers and, two years after, meron na silang sariling truck. Meron na silang mga kontrata na nakakadiretso na sila, hindi na sila– not all of them kailangan pang dumaan sa CamSur MPC. Ang iba sa kanila, dumidiretso na kasi na-train na. Meron na silang halimbawa, 'yung LCC, 'yung malaking grocery sa amin. Every Monday halimbawa, magte-text doon sa isang farmer leader, “Ganitong quantity 'yung kailangan ko,” 'yung farmer leader sasabihin na sa buong grupo kung anong quantity, lahat na dadaanan na lang, “Ilan ba 'yung mako-commit mo?”

    So ano siya, mahirap siya sa umpisa pero pag nabigyan na ng training, nabigyan na ng kaalaman, nabigyan na ng connection, nagiging farmer-entrepreneurs na sila. So, 'yung sa sharing mo Ma'am Luz, 'yung model na ito puwedeng-puwede nating gawin and meron tayong hawak na basehan kasi 'yung Sagip Saka Law is there. Ang gusto kong sabihin, puwede tayong mag-pilot nito. Halimbawa sa inyo sa Leyte, puwede tayong mag-pilot na 'yung mga pangangailangan ng gobyerno, instead na binibili niya sa mga malalaking negosyante, bibilhin niya na sa farmers natin. So, 'yun 'yung una.

    'Yung pangalawa, 'yung sinasabi mong crop insurance, ako pinagdaanan ko 'yan Ma'am Luz. When I was in Congress, tinamaan kami ng typhoon Glenda, ewan ko Annie kung naalala mo 'yung typhoon Glenda, 2014 'yun. Tinamaan kami ng typhoon Glenda, grabe 'yung destruction sa mga farmers namin. Pero, hindi nga 10% 'yung nakakuha ng crop insurance at 'yung dahilan kung bakit hindi nakakuha ng crop insurance, kasi 'yung basehan ng crop insurance, 'yung RSBSA. Ang problema doon sa RSBSA, 'yung registry hindi siya updated. So, ako na mismo as Congresswoman, ako na mismo 'yung naghanap. Sino ba sa mga farmers namin ang puwedeng maka-avail ng crop insurance, sobrang kaunti kasi dahil hindi updated 'yung RSBSA, hindi sila puwedeng mabigyan ng insurance. So, 'yung sa akin, 'yung system mismo is flawed.

    Para sa akin, 'yung RSBSA, kasi at that time hindi ko alam kung hanggang ngayon, at that time ang may hawak, DBM, na 'yung DBM wala naman siyang local presence kaya hindi niya naman alam kung 'yung nag-aavail sa kaniya, talagang farmer pa ba o hindi na. In fact, 'yung RSBSA na nahanap ko, ang dami nang wala sa lugar kasi hindi nga siya– I mean gets niyo ba? May pera, may listahan, tapos may calamity pero, 'yung pera saka listahan hindi siya nagtutugma. So, ang daming may kailangan, may pera, pero hindi puwedeng ma-avail 'yung kailangan– may kailangan noong pera, kasi iba 'yung listahan, so kailangan talaga siya ayusin.

    Para sa akin, kailangan regular 'yung updating, regular 'yung updating ng RSBSA tapos dapat, local. Dapat local 'yung implementation kasi pag national 'yung implementation, pahirapan. Para kasing dati, naging ahente na lang 'yung DA, naging ahente na lang 'yung DA kasi 'yung may hawak nga, 'yung DBM. I don't know if there are improvements in the system already. Tapos 'yung isa sinasabi mo, 'yung irrigation. May nakikita ako dito Luz na model na kasi pag pinagusapan 'yung irrigation, kaunti lang 'yung nakaka-avail dahil ang laki ng perang kailangan. Pero puwede kasi tayong gumawa, mag-tweak tayo ng bagong programa na mas community irrigation.

    Mas community irrigation na mas local 'yung downloading of funds, mas local 'yung downloading of funds rather than dadaan ka sa mga National Government Offices na pahirapan 'yung pag-request dahil kakaunti 'yung funds set aside for irrigation. Ang example ko na lang, halimbawa ngayon na merong Mandanas ruling. Sobrang laking opportunity ng Mandanas ruling sa paglagay ng mga community irrigation programs na magiging programa siya ng mga local farmers pero lokal din 'yung kausap. So, meron kaming proposal about this. Siguro sa another forum, pag mas may oras tayo, mas magagawa natin ito ng programa pero isa na ito sa mga programa namin.

    Tapos 'yung pinakahuli kasi wala nang time, 'yung transport. 'Yung transport marami kaming transport groups hindi ko alam kung meron dito na partner namin, we reached out to them during the pandemic kasi sila talaga 'yung most affected. Hindi nakapagbiyahe, until now, marami pang hindi nakakabalik sa rota nila. Pero sinabayan pa ito ng implementation ng modernization. Most of the farmer groups we're dealing with, ang sinasabi sa amin, wala silang problema sa modernization. Meaning to say, wala naman silang violent objections sa modernization. Alam nilang kailangan nito pero parang number one ill-timed, dahil pinipilit siya at a time na hindi sila bumabiyahe, so wala silang pera.

    Number two, very prohibitive 'yung terms. Pamahal nang pamahal 'yung presyo, tapos kakaunti naman 'yung subsidy. Ang subsidy yata if I'm not mistaken, 160,000 pesos, na it is a small percentage of the cost of the the vehicle tapos masyado pang maiksi 'yung payment– 'yung terms ng payment masyadong maiksi, na sobra talagang hindi siya accessible sa mga maliliit na mga transport coops o 'yung mga drivers and operators. So parang, ngayon, ang naka-avail lang 'yung dati nang medyo nakakaluwag. Pero 'yung walang wala, ang iba inutang pa 'yung mga jeep na dinadala nila ngayon. So, para sa akin, sana hindi siya ipilit at at a time like this hanggang hindi pa nagno-normalize.

    Pangalawa, kung i-iimplement na siya, kailangan pakinggan 'yung drivers and operators. Ano ba 'yung terms na kaya ninyo? Kasi ang pinaka-worry ko nito, parang gamitin pa siya. Gamitin pa siya to ease out na, “Uy hindi kayo nag-comply so hindi na kayo magkakaroon ng chance,” so ito, bantayan natin. 'Yung ginawa noong office namin dahil wala naman kaming mandato na makialam, ang ginawa na lang ng office namin 'yung height ng pandemic, merong mga driver groups na tinulungan namin na maglagay sila ng parang cooperative nila pero hindi konektado sa transport. Meron sa kanila na naglagay ng parang rice training business, meron sa kanila na naglagay ng parang multipurpose business para lang may kita 'yung mga drivers during the pandemic.

    Pero kailangan kasi nito, 'yung short-term solution nito, na makabalik na sila sa mga rota nila. 'Yung long-term solution nito, talagang pag-isipan na natin 'yung papaano mas magiging secure, papaano mas magiging secure 'yung mga nasa transport sector. Kasi ngayon, ang daming uncertainty. Ang dami ngayong uncertainty pero siguro 'yung mapa-promise ko lang sa inyo na pag tayo 'yung binigyan ng pagkakataon, aayusin natin ito. Pero 'yung pag-ayos natin nito ang promise ko, kasama kayo. Kasama kayo sa pag-ayos. Ang promise ko din, 'yung mga i-aappoint natin na mga heads of offices, meron kayong boses. Meaning to say, kokonsultahin kayo, kokonsultahin kayo sa mga ma-aapoint, parating may representative 'yung galing sa inyo, para sigurado natin na 'yung mga interes ng lahat ay naaasikaso.

    So, kulang 'yung oras natin pero 'yun siguro 'yung response ko as of this time pero continuing naman 'yung ating discussions di ba? Continuing 'yung ating discussions para 'yung policy, pag tayo 'yung bingiyan ng pagkakataon, day one handa na tayong [inaudible 1:06:56].

    [END 01:06:59]

     

    Posted in Transcripts on Mar 02, 2022