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What’s keeping Año?

Ben Contreras

WE were invited to a meeting of farmers in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. It was held in Baliwagan where their association has their own buying station and two soon-to-be operational cold storages for unsold vegetables. What’s heartening is that, this scheme is what I had in mind long ago until today, a scheme that would help our farmers boost their income without their produce having to go through middlemen who earn more than the farmers themselves. I lament the fact that they who produce the food we eat are the ones found in the lowest echelons of our society.

It was an honor to be the speaker in our group. At least, I was able to convey my message that they, too, need to change their attitude when government assistance come their way, that they should not use the money on unintended purposes.

It was an opportune time to remind them of the past when there were several government assistance programs intended to alleviate the lives of our farmers. They failed because of corruption–corruption made possible by collusion between the government officials and the supposed beneficiaries. That should not happen again.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol is probably the least controversial among the Cabinet secretaries. As such, he can be the best man to deliver what his office is mandated to deliver. What he did in Talakag, Bukidnon would be replicated in other areas, one of the beneficiaries of which is this farmer organization in Balingasag.

Our presence was more on briefing them on what to expect on this Oct. 18, 2018 affair. They were guided on what to do and to prepare so that their concerns will be given the attention.

As I stood before more than 50 farmers, a flash of what I saw on Facebook should remind us who are better in life not to exploit their poverty by haggling over the price to the minimum. Instead, we should extend our unsolicited kindness by buying their produce without bargaining. Otherwise, they will be discouraged with their low income and give up farming. If that happens, then where are you going to get the food you need?

Our politicians need to be reminded also of their century-old promises of building more farm-to-market roads. Instead of farm-to-market road, what some built were roads to their farms. It may be taken as a joke, but still, there is truth in it.

***

There is nothing to be proud of being second to Davao City in income generation. Though it is higher than what Dongkoy Emano made during his time, the increase in business and real estate tax should give our city government more than that P3.3-billion income. The point is, is that an accurate figure?

There are only four people who know the real income of the city: the mayor, the city treasurer, the city accountant and the budget officer. When they are one in the kitchen, then no outsider would know what they’re cooking inside. That is too much for comfort. It can be a good breeding ground for corruption and manipulation.

I am reminded of the complaint filed by former Taglimao barangay chairman William Guialani about the P79 million in checks issued by the mayor. This complaint is allegedly sitting on the table of Interior Secretary Año. Perhaps we can ask this question: What’s keeping you, Mr. Secretary Año?

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