Gov’t reps met with KM farmers during march
The Inquirer’s Dec. 1 editorial pointed out President Aquino’s or his representative’s supposed failure to meet the Kilus Magniniyog farmers before they reached Manila, their destination. We quote: “But at the same time we cannot understand why, if the administration was, as the President told the farmers, ‘on your side,’ it had to wait for the marchers to finish their 1,700-km ordeal. The President or his representative could have met them somewhere along their route, perhaps even before they left Mindanao.”
May we be allowed to clarify the matter., On Sept. 22, 2014, a day after the march was launched, the President, through the executive secretary, instructed the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (Opafsam) to look into the issues raised by the Kilus Magniniyog. On Oct. 9, Food Security Secretary Francis Pangilinan personally met all the 71 farmers in the Kilus Magniniyog march at the Philippine Coconut Authority’s Region 8 office in Palo, Leyte, during the Eastern Visayas leg of their march, to discuss and listen to their recommendations.
A total of 17 meetings or an average of one meeting per week with the stakeholders and coconut farmers in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao for a period of five months were held on the initiative of the Opafsam between July 7 and Nov. 26 (the day the farmers had that dialogue with the President). The results of these weekly meetings and dialogues were used as reference and basis in the drafting of policy recommendations submitted for the President’s approval.
We reiterate the President’s statement: We are on the side of the coconut farmers. In the meantime, projects are currently being discussed with the Kilus Magniniyog as we await the resolution of the Supreme Court on the relevant cases awaiting its decision.—RACHEL G. GILLEGO, chief of staff,
Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization
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