Presidential candidate Sen. Manny Pacquiao has thumbed down proposals to lower the tariff and increase the minimum access volume (MAV) or minimum quota for imported corn.
In a press briefing in Isabela, Pacquiao said the government should consider the situation of local farmers suffering because of the flooding of cheap imported rice and the smuggling of agricultural products.
Pacquiao reacted to reports that government managers including the National Economic Develop Authority (NEDA) are pushing to reduce the tariff for corn importation, from 35 percent to 5 percent for in-quota imports and 15 percent for out quota imports.
“Para sa akin hindi tama yung babaan yung (corn) tarrif dahil babaha na naman eh gaya ng importation ng rice dito sa atin, kawawa naman ang mga farmers natin lalo na dito sa Isabela dahil maraming corn producer dito, nagtatanim ng mais. Kawawa sila. Huwag ganun,” Pacquiao said.
“Umaangal na nga sila dahil sa palay eh, dagdagan pa natin dito sa corn. Isipin naman natin ang ating mga magsasaka. Pahalagahan natin sila dahil kawawa sila. Tulungan natin sila.”
He also opposed plans to increase the MAV for corn imports from 380,000 metric tons to 4 million metric tons because this is already almost equivalent to the country’s annual corn production.
Pacquiao vowed that once he becomes president, he would immediately take action against government officials who are taking advantage of their position to favor importers and smugglers of agricultural products.
“Pag ako naging presidente puputulan ko ng sungay yang mga nagsasamantala kahit sino pa sila. Basta nasa tama ako, sagasaan ko ang dapat sagasaan,” he said.
Pacquiao is in Isabela which is the country’s biggest corn producer.
After his meeting with Isabela provincial officials Friday morning where he laid down his platform of government which included the legislation of a long-term masterplan for the country’s infrastructure development , Pacquiao proceeded to Santiago City for a people’s meeting.