ILOILO CITY – More woes than gain! That is how the farmers described the effects to the agriculture sector of the Philippines of the ongoing APEC Ministerial meetings held here in Iloilo City.
“APEC will bring no gains on the agriculture sector of the country. Instead, it will further impoverish the already poor farmers.” said Cris Chavez of peasant-alliance PAMANGGAS.
Under APEC and ASEAN integration, the Philippines’ zero tariff and removal of non-tariff barriers will facilitate free flow of goods and penetration of cheap and heavily subsidized agricultural products from other Pacific and South East Asian countries. Cheap products such as rice, sugar, garlic, onion and other vegetables from other countries will compete with the local Filipino farmers products, essentially killing our local agriculture economy. Since the Philippines entered into APEC, it has resulted in more expansion and conversion of agricultural lands intended for import products, tourism and mining.
“With agri-trade liberalization and incentives offered to lure foreign investments, we small Filipino farmers are always on the losing side, while the big business corporations and developed countries will reap the benefits. This APEC will kill our local agriculture industry,” added Chavez.
Data from KMP showed that there are 9 out of 10 farmers do not own the land they till. For instance, 70% to 80% of the garlic sold in the market are imported.
To show their protest on the ongoing APEC Ministerial meetings here in Iloilo City, around 150 farmers-representatives from all over the Philippines held a march-rally from Plazoleta Gay to Freedom Grandstand last September 29.
Farmers call for Philippine agriculture out of APEC and implement genuine agrarian reform law in the country.
Earlier on September 28, PAMANGGAS together with Panay Alliance of Concerned Citizens for Health and Environmental Protection (PACCHEP), and Philippine Network for Food Security Programmes (PNFSP) held an alternative forum on the APEC’s High Level Policy Dialogues on Food Security, Agricultural Biotechonology, and the Blue Economy.
Iloilo City hosts the APEC’s High Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology, Food Security and the Blue Economy which is happening this week.