Understanding the Controversy: Filipino Farmers Protest Against Diokno and Balisacan
The Gathering Storm: Opposition to Diokno and Balisacan
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, and various food security advocates have raised their voices in protest, demanding the removal of Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and National Economic and Development Authority Director General Arsenio Balisacan. Their outcry echoes the sentiments of over 20 farmer organizations who signed a petition for Diokno and Balisacan’s removal, arguing that their neoliberal policies are detrimental to the Filipino people.
Critics Speak Out: Former DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano’s Accusations
Former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano accused Diokno of endorsing “anti-people” policies, which he believes are disadvantageous to Filipinos. The policies in question include Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law, the Maharlika Sovereign Wealth Fund, sugar industry liberalization, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Rice Tariffication Law: A Thorn in the Side of Local Farmers
According to KMP, the implementation of the rice tariffication law, in particular, has caused significant harm to the local rice industry and has plunged rice farmers into debt and poverty. Mariano stated that local rice farmers have incurred more than P265 billion in losses due to an extensive influx of imported rice since the implementation of RA 11203.
Diokno’s Stance on Oil Excise Tax and Free Tuition Law
There are also concerns about Diokno’s opposition to the removal or suspension of the oil excise tax and the review of the free tuition law. According to Mariano, Diokno and Balisacan are representing the interests of local and foreign big businesses, which is why he believes there are more than enough reasons to demand their removal.
Implications for the Filipino People
The controversy surrounding Diokno and Balisacan’s policies not only affects the agriculture sector but also the broader Filipino population. The perceived favoritism towards big businesses, coupled with the negative impacts of policies like the Rice Liberalization Law on local farmers, underscores the need for economic policies that prioritize the welfare of the many, not just the few.
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