Farmers and Landless Rural Workers

NAPC, LGU Kauswagan signs pact to boost the lives of coconut farmers in the municipality

National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Noel K. Felongco and Kauswagan Municipal Mayor Rommel C. Arnado signed a MOA aiming to institutionalize their partnership for the implementation of the Village-linked Coco Industry Development prototype project on September 12, 2019 at Kauswagan Municipal Hall, Lanao del Norte.

Lanao Del Norte Governor Imelda Q. Dimaporo expressed her full support to the project through her presence during the MOA signing. She urged the beneficiaries present to assist in the implementation of the project and mentioned that the Provincial Government of Lanao del Norte will also actively monitor the project.

Sec. Felongco commends Mayor Arnado for being a firm believer of organic farming and said that the success of the poverty reduction prototype project in the municipality is in the hands of the people.

Immediately after the MOA signing, Sec. Felongco and Mayor Arnado faced the local media in the province to further discuss the ways forward for the implementation of the Village-linked Coco Industry Development poverty reduction prototype project and to lay down the banner programs of NAPC and the newly passed Magna Carta of the Poor. Meanwhile, prior to the MOA signing, NAPC conducted a Ka-Sambayanihan Volunteers’ Orientation with farmers and fisherfolk in Kauswagan.

Moving forward, NAPC Mindanao Operations Unit headed by Mr. Augustus Tapia initiated a coordination meeting with the LGU Kauswagan department heads on September 13, 2019. As agreed, an official order from Mayor Arnado will be released to form a Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) who will oversee the whole project implementation and under the PMC a Technical Working Group (TWG) will be created to handle the technical aspects of the prototype project funded by PAGCOR.

Statement: Organic Farming is the sustainable solution to uplift the lives of the farmers.

Organic Farming is the sustainable solution to uplift the lives of the farmers.

The farmers remain as one of the poorest sectors in the country with the highest poverty incidence in 2015 at 34.3 percent according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). This is driven by their perennial concern on high farming cost and low yield.

NAPC believes that there should be an agricultural shift in the country to Organic Farming from Chemical-based Farming due to the following reasons: high cost of production in chemical-based farming resulting to low farm net income, health hazard on the part of the producers and consumers and environmental reason like deterioration of soil and agro-ecological balances.

This is supported by Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 that was enacted last April 6, 2010 to promote and implement organic agriculture practices in the country that will enrich the fertility of the soil to increase farm productivity, reduce pollution and destruction of the environment, and prevent the depletion of natural resources. Organic agriculture paves the way for opportunities that are geared towards ensuring food security nationwide.

One of the advocacy programs that the Secretary had the chance to learn about was ““kaPALAYapaan” presented by Col. RJ Rojas from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“KaPALAYapaan” is one of the best practices (program) of the 4th Infantry Division of AFP to empower the farmers who were in the war torn and NPA infested areas and it aims to provide solution to the perennial issue of the farmers which is the “High Cost, Low Yield”; to help and assist the farmers on how to increase their yield; to help the farmers to have less vulnerable crop failure caused by plant pests and diseases; and to protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health. NAPC fully supports “KaPALAYapaan” because it may be one of the sustainable solutions to ensure food security and alleviate poverty in the country.

"Sambayanihan Serbisyong Sambayanan" ng NAPC, inilunsad


Pinangunahan ni NAPC Sec. Noel K. Felongco ang paglulunsad ng “Sambayanihan Serbisyong Sambayanan” noong Disyembre 7 sa Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City.

Dinaluhan ng mahigit 5,000 katao mula sa iba’t ibang maralitang komunidad sa Metro Manila at mga karatig probinsya ang pagtitipon.

Ang “Sambayanihan Serbisyong Sambayanan” ay isa sa malalaking aktibidad ng NAPC sa ilalim ng bagong liderato ni Sec. Felongco.

Tampok sa naturang aktibidad ang paghahatid ng mga pangunahing serbisyo ng iba’t ibang ahensiya ng pamahalaan gaya ng job fair, legal assistance, dental at medical mission, business and technical skills training at NFA Tagpuan na naglalayong direktang dalhin sa mamamayang Pilipino ang mga serbisyong panlipunan.

Ayon kay Sec. Felongco, bahagi ng mandato ng ahensiya ang tiyakin na naaabot mula sa mga pinakamahihirap na mamamayan hanggang sa mga pinakamalalayong komunidad ang mga serbisyo at proyekto ng gobyerno.

Giit ng bagong kalihim, ang “Sambayanihan Serbisyong Sambayanan” ay pagbibigay-diin din sa kahalagahan ng pagkakaisa ng lahat ng sektor ng lipunan, sa loob o labas man ng gobyerno. Kaya naman, isa sa mga layunin ng programang ito ang wakasan ang kahirapan sa pamamagitan ng pagkakamit sa 10 batayang pangangailangan ng bawat mamamayan, ani pa ng bagong Lead Convenor.

Sa mga susunod na araw at linggo ay lilibutin ng “Sambayanihan Serbisyong Sambayanan” ang buong Pilipinas para ihatid ang mga serbisyo ng gobyerno sa bawat Pilipino.

NAPC Conducts Orientation on Kilos SAMBAYANAN Convergence among NGAs


The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) conducted an orientation on Kilos SAMBAYANAN Convergence among the national-level heads of national government agencies (NGAs) on September 20, Thursday at B Hotel, Quezon City. The orientation aims to secure the commitment of NGAs to support a series of Kilos SAMBAYANAN Planning Workshops which will be organized by NAPC.

The 10 provinces with the highest magnitude of poverty that have been selected as focus provinces for the workshops, were presented during the orientation. Specific poverty issues on these provinces - 1. Cebu; 2. Negros Occidental; 3. Bukidnon; 4. Lanao del sur; 5. Negros Oriental; 6. Camarines Sur; 7. Leyte; 8. North Cotabato; 9. Zamboanga del Norte; and 10. Sulu – have been discussed during previous consultations among civil society organizations (CSOs). Orientations will also be conducted among regional level NGA officers and the provincial LGUs on October 2-4 for Mindanao, and October 9-11 for the Luzon and Visayas clusters.

The Kilos SAMBAYANAN Convergence workshops aim to formulate a unified plan among government agencies on how to harmonize government efforts, strengthen inter-agency coordination, and identify gaps and weaknesses in addressing the 10 Basic Needs.

Keynote Address of Undersecretary Tan for the International Conference on Golden Rice

Members of international and national civil society organizations, co-workers in the national and local government, farmers’ and consumers’ organizations, local and regional people’s alliances, church groups, development partners, the media, and the academe, good morning. On behalf of Secretary Liza Maza, Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), I am pleased and honored to welcome you to the International Conference on Golden Rice and to the Multi-stakeholder and Interagency Dialogue on Golden Rice, the second of a series of dialogues on Golden Rice sponsored by the NAPC. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), through the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), renewed their application for Golden Rice field testing and direct use in February 2017. As a response to the requests of peasant organizations for dialogue, the NAPC facilitated a civil society roundtable forum in August 2017 in collaboration with the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura, Inc. or MASIPAG. The dialogue served as an important platform for grassroots peasant networks, health professionals, consumer rights groups, organic advocates, farmers’ organizations, and representatives of government agencies to discuss in-depth issues and concerns revolving around the application for Golden Rice field testing and direct use as food and other purposes in the Philippines. Among the issues that were raised in the multi-stakeholder and interagency dialogue are the lack of genuine people’s participation, lack of transparency and access to information, absence of risk assessment procedures and guidelines by the government, lack of public knowledge on scientific studies related to nutrition, health, and environment which backs the safe use of Golden Rice for public consumption, and a host of other concerns related to socio-economic, cultural and ethical considerations in the direct use of Golden Rice. Results of the public dialogue were submitted as public comment on the Golden Rice, which were then forwarded to PhilRice and the Bureau of Plant Industry of the Department of Agriculture, both of which are main agencies overseeing the field-testing of Golden Rice in the Philippines. The proceedings were also drafted as public comment and submitted to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Our agency is committed to facilitate continuing public consultations and multi-stakeholder dialogues to further understand these issues. he NAPC is mandated to recommend policy and other measures to address issues on poverty alleviation. Under our anti-poverty framework and the Kilos SAMBAYANAN or Kilos para sa Sampung Batayang Pangangailangan approach, NAPC asserts that government projects should be anchored on the provision of the '10 Basic Needs' of Filipinos: food and land reform, water, shelter, work, education, healthcare, social protection, healthy environment, peace and participation. Kilos SAMBAYANAN is a call for convergence and a commitment among all sectors of society, all national and local government agencies, to address poverty based on a universal, multi-dimensional and rights-based approach. The NAPC also draws particular attention to issues surrounding the most basic of needs: food including the deprivation of the right to food for many Filipinos; the continuing lack of food security in the country; and the peasant’s struggle for genuine agrarian reform, which remains the bedrock policy for ensuring food security and one of the necessary structural reforms for reversing underdevelopment and inequality in the country. We are one with our basic sectors, and one with you here today in asserting the basic right to food. The right to food, has been recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979), Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and other binding international instruments. And yet, the right to food remains one of the most violated rights globally. In the Philippines, as much as 50 to 60 million Filipinos may be considered poor when a multi-dimensional view of poverty is considered. Official government data show that some 21.9 million Filipinos or 21.6 percent of the population are poor. Golden Rice is a genetically modified rice variety that was engineered to address malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency. However, we should address vitamin A deficiency as a symptom of poverty. The issues that were surfaced in the August 2017 dialogue on the Golden Rice field-testing and direct use reveal the socio-economic, political, and cultural impacts of genetically-modified crops to communities and the economy. The fear of expanding corporate control in agriculture, with biotech corporations using golden rice as channel to become giant agro-enterprises in the rice industry, is a reality that governments should seriously face and address. We are aware of the adverse impact and the grave casualties of increasing corporate control over seeds, lands and other agricultural resources. We are aware of the thousands of farmers in various parts of Asia who have succumbed to suicide over the past decade due to intense debt arising from corporate monopoly over seeds and other agricultural inputs. In this line, it is imperative to weigh in the implications of the recent approval of international regulatory bodies in Health Canada and Australia despite the ongoing debate on Golden Rice globally. Two decades of global civil society opposition that has impeded the planned commercialization of Golden Rice in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Indonesia is a clear testament to the strength of organized people’s organizations movement to assert their right to food sovereignty and to continue the struggle against corporate control over the world’s food systems. As both a government official and staunch advocate of farmers’ rights, women’s rights and sustainable agriculture, I would like to offer some lessons I learned from our peasant leaders and colleagues in civil society and government who are advocates of food sovereignty and sustainable agricultural development: First, we must intensify our assertion that food is a basic human right—in advancing our advocacy and campaigns for food sovereignty and sustainable agroecological farming, and in promoting our campaigns against corporate control of agriculture and our food systems. The privatization of food-producing inputs such as soil, seeds and water, and the absolute commodification of the food follows the ideological stance that market-based resource distribution is more efficient than a rights-based approach for such vital resources. We need to challenge this corporate narrative. We should also look at our mainstream development narrative because even the Sustainable Development Goals, which explicitly recognizes the right to water and sanitation and the universal access to health and education, do not explicitly state the right to food. We need to popularize a rights-based narrative that places food squarely as a human right and a public good. We need to reassess using only a needs-based approach that assumes people who lack access to food are passive recipients in need of direct assistance without government obligations. A rights-based approach to food security and nutrition demands government accountability, active engagement of food insecure people in policy governance, universal access to policies, legal redress mechanisms, and additional binding connections between policies and outcomes. Second, alongside challenging the existing food systems where profit from agricultural production prevails, we need to clearly present our alternatives. Over the years, we have witnessed the power of organized farmers, fisherfolks, women, national and international NGOs in pushing for a food system that is sustainable based on the principles of agroecology and recognizes the importance of the role of small farmers and local communities. The advocacy efforts of our farmers, indigenous people and rural women are slowly being recognized and integrated into national and international discourses, and in policy formulation in achieving food sovereignty, sustainable agriculture and rural development. Many local government officials and mayors who, through our advocates, passed local ordinances prompting organic farming. CNN Philippines cited four women who are changing Philippine agriculture, two of whom are peasant leaders: Ms. Angie Ipong of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and Ms. Zen Soriano of AMIHAN (National Federation of Peasant Women). During the Multi-Stakeholder Consultations on Agroecology in Asia and the Pacific in 2016, which was a follow up to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s international symposium on agroecology for food security and nutrition in 2014, participants called on governments, decision-makers, technical and financial partners to: • Empower smallholder farmers as priority to end hunger and achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability; • Promote a new paradigm of agriculture that is not solely focused on production but on people’s rights and needs; promote a shift from chemical-dependence farming to agroecology; • Ensure, recognize, respect and uphold small-scale food producers’ and communities, rights to land, water, seeds, forests, commons, biodiversity and territory. In the agreed conclusions released last March 23 by the UN Commission on the Status of Women’s during its 62nd Session: the CSW UN member states to: • Strengthen sustainable production and consumption patterns, respect and protect traditional and ancestral knowledge and practices of rural women—in particular the preservation, production, use and exchange of endemic and native seeds—and support alternatives to the heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides harmful to the health of rural women and girls in their communities; • Invest and strengthen efforts to empower rural women as important actors in achieving food security and improved nutrition while ensuring the people’s right to food is met Currently, a UN declaration on the ‘rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas’ is being lobbied based on the recommendations and conclusions presented by rural workers, indigenous peoples, and NGOs to UN representatives. This declaration, according to its proponents, tackles the need for food security to end poverty and hunger, to make the earth ecologically safe for the next generation, and to create an equitable food system. Third, the strength of our advocacy rests on the strength of our farmers’ organizations, the key and decisive force in our quest for food sovereignty and sustainable rural development. Therefore, one of our major and fundamental tasks is still helping build and expand strong organizations of farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous people, and rural women; and strengthening alliances with scientists, consumer groups, academic and research institutions, and people in government. Fourth, the government needs to be genuine in the realization of its rationale and it must ensure that those who toil the land are not landless and those who feed us are not hungry; the farmers who comprise the majority and are center of our society should not be marginalized. The broader society must uphold farmers’ rights and causes to advance genuine social change and progress. Technological advancements in food and agriculture will only prove worthy if it serves the farmers and the people. We, at NAPC, are one with the organizations here today in asserting that a farmer-led and sustainable agriculture that puts farmers’ knowledge and experience, farmers’ control of seeds and agricultural resources, and strong farmers’ organizations are key ingredients to achieving food sovereignty and sustainable agricultural development. We also believe that rice is central to our culture in Asia and thousands of rice varieties developed over time are testaments to the diversity and richness of our culture and roots of our identity. We must let it thrive and not be monopolized. Seed and land are the heart of our farmers’ freedom and future. It is fundamental in our quest to forge not only a more sustainable food system, but also a more just and humane society. And so, I would like to end my message by quoting, Ka Virgie Nazareno, one of our women farmer leaders in the Quezon province: “Land, farmers and food systems must be liberated from the control of corporate greed, GMOs and toxic products to combat malnutrition, hunger and poverty.” Farmers’ right to land, seed and practices of sustainable and ecological agriculture must be supported to ensure safe, nutritious food and a thriving healthy ecology for all.” It is my fervent hope that our gathering in the next few days will help us better understand the issues at hand, energize us with inspiring stories, strategically plan and connect local struggles with regional and global struggles, so that we can forge our partnerships and continue to work together for a sustainable, resilient, and people-centered food system. Thank you very much.

Cordillera Convergence conducts workshop for rice terraces rehab

The Convergence on the Rehabilitation and Conservation of Rice Terraces for Food Security held a Technical Team Workshop for its Five-Year Rice Terraces Rehabilitation and Conservation Development Plan and Investment Program from February 1 to 2 in Baguio City.

More than 60 participants from four provincial governments, 21 municipal governments and representatives of civil society organizations joined the workshop.

Formally established with NAPC support on September 30, 2017 in Baguio City, this convergence initiative aims to help rehabilitate and conserve the Cordillera region’s rice terraces.

Its projects seek to protect the highland region’s critical water sources, watersheds, forests, and biodiversity. It also aims to promote sustainable agriculture to promote food security and land reform in the northern part of the country.

The Technical Team Workshop was conducted to validate and enhance the first draft of the Five-Year Development Plan, and generate further data and inputs for the second draft. The Technical Team will later draft and formulate the Convergence’s Investment Program.

Workshop participants include representatives of regional line agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Social Work and Development, National Commission on Culture and the Arts, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and National Irrigation Administration.

They were joined by the Provincial Planning and Development Officers, Agriculture Officers of the Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province, and Municipal Planning and Development Coordinators of 21 municipal governments in these four provinces, and representatives of peoples' organizations.

Addressing issues on food and land reform key to just and lasting peace

“The country should devote prime agricultural lands for food production and social justice for farmers should not suffer at the whims of landlord-oligarchs and multinationals,” Secretary Liza Maza said as the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) conducted its nationwide campaign to address the ’10 basic needs’ of Filipinos in Mindanao, October 25.

Sec. Maza explained that a truly distributive land reform program, of which agrarian justice and support services are delivered to farmers and agricultural workers, is key to achieving food security in the county as well as to ending the decades-old armed conflict with the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Peasant network Tanggol Magsasaka has tallied 91 deaths of farmers in the past year. Agrarian unrest in the countryside continues to grow amid the spate of peasant killings and harassment. Thousands of farmers from all over the country have trooped to the National Capital Region to demand from the government accountability for landlessness and justice for the murder of peasant leaders.

“Landlessness is one of the root causes of our farmers’ suffering and only pro-people policies on agrarian reform will help us achieve a just and lasting peace in the country,” Sec. Maza further said.

According to the food security framework drafted by NAPC, land-grabbing and landlord-oligarchs have enslaved the agriculture sector and resulted to marginal produce and returns to thousands of farmers who suffer from a highly competitive and middlemen-monopolized market.

Government data show that of the 14-million-hectare agricultural land of the Philippines, 9.9 million hectares are farmlands while around 4 million hectares are devoted to agriculture derivative production.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) reported that only 4.7 million hectares of these have been acquired and distributed to 2.7 million farmer-beneficiaries. The data already include those lands distributed since the agrarian reform program was implemented in 1972.

“If food sovereignty is guaranteed by the government, food security will be raised in a political level with the protection of human rights and promotion of the people’s empowerment,” Sec. Maza said. “The government shall empower the basic sector and ensure that the mass of food producers such as farmers, farmworkers and fisherfolk, women, and indigenous peoples have enough productive resources to achieve food security,” she added.

Kilos SAMBAYANAN, or Kilos para sa Sampung Batayang Pangangailangan, advocates to end poverty and has identified ‘food and land reform’ as one of the primary needs of the Filipinos.###

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