slams Diokno anti-farmers statement
October 2, 2018
QUEZON CITY Ė The
country' biggest labor group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union
Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) called on Budget Secretary
Benjamin Diokno to retract his statement on a live televised
interview implying that Filipino rice farmers can be sacrificed in
the fight against inflation.
On ANC LIVE, Sec. Diokno
said, "In policy, there are winners and losers. There are 100
million consumers. There are 2.5 million (rice) farmers. Itís a no
brainer." This was his reply to the ANC anchor when she asked if the
importation of rice will negatively affect farmers. "This is not
just moral insensitivity but intellectual arrogance of the highest
order. It is provocative given the economic difficulties that our
poorest people are facing. He is saying "drop dead" to our rice
farmers in the name of feeding our people," said ALU-TUCP Vice
President Luis Corral.
"While he mentioned that
there will be a rice (competitive enhancement) fund for farmers, he
seemed to regard it as a token gesture to the big losers Ė our rice
farmers", said Corral.
ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan
Tanjusay expressed anger at both the tone and manner of Diokno in
the interview. "Our people are now going hungry and have no more
money in their pockets. Even if he floods the markets with imported
rice and vegetables our people have no money to buy these goods
with. And yet Diokno can afford to say that the latest surveys
indicating inflation as the top concern of Filipinos as just a mere
"impression". He dismisses the survey as just a repetition of
previous years' "impression", added Tanjusay.
"We warn our economic
managers that for our people the price of rice, vegetables and fish
are life and death issues. We have to find ways of surviving
together as one nation rather than cavalierly and ruthlessly
sacrifice 2.5 million Filipino rice farmers in what Diokno earlier
described as a "cost-benefit" formula, explained Corral.
"We ask the Senate to
ensure that the Rice Tariffication bill ensure that the rice
competitive enhancement fund (RCEF) be given enough budgetary
support to help our farmers survive. No one is speaking for our
farmers and their families now. We need to bring up their
productivity by helping them organize into cooperatives, go into
other crops, acquire modern machinery, shorten and simplify the
logistics train. Further we need to ensure farmer management of the
fund lest we repeat the sad experiences of the sugar levy and
coconut levy which were plundered," said Corral.
"On the demand side,
ALU-TUCP calls for enactment of the proposed 500 peso monthly cash
subsidy from government for 4 million minimum wage earners under SSS
coverage. We call this the Labor Empowerment and Assistance Program
(LEAP) and is intended to mitigate the economic miscalculations of
TRAIN 1, the knock-on depreciation of the peso in the light of the
US increase in its interest rates, and the on-going increase in
international oil prices," added Tanjusay.
"There is a critical need
to bridge the gap in the decline of real wages as inflation climbs.
DOLE has signalled it is considering a mere pittance of P20.
"ALU-TUCP reiterates its
call for a substantive wage adjustment to compensate workers for the
productivity gains they have brought to the economy, and for
patiently waiting for the trickle down from our growing economy. Now
that times are hard workers and rice farmers are being made
"sacrificial lambs" again. Letís get our economic policy right for
once. Not "losers and winners" but "win-win" said Tanjusay.