CALAUAN, Laguna - Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso on Friday said he will implement a 2-year moratorium on the conversion of farmlands should he win the 2022 presidential race.
Under his proposed policy, all agricultural lands must produce rice and crops for 2 to 3 years to help address food security in the country, Domagoso said during a dialogue with farmers here.
"Marami nang mga lupang sakahan o agrikultura na ginagawa nang subdivision, ginagawang pabahay na wala namang nakatira," he said.
(There are a lot of farm and agricultural lands that have been turned into subdivisions, housing units that are vacant.)
"Kailangan itong mga lupang ito, ma-cultivate. Ang gobyerno dapat magpondo sa mga magsasaka upang tiltilin yung lupa, upang magtanim, upang tayo ay may makain, upang tayo ay may kasiguraduhan sa pagkain in the next 2 years," he said.
(These lands need to be cultivated. The government must fund farmers so that they can till the land and plant so that we can have something to eat in the next 2 years.)
The moratorium would hopefully make the Philippines less dependent on importing rice and crops, the presidential aspirant said.
"Ayokong darating ang oras, may pandemiya, hindi na tayo makabili ng bigas sa Vietnam, sa Thailand, sa mga neighboring region because mayroon din silang sariling pangangailangan," he said.
(I don't want the time to come when we can't but rice from Vietnam, Thailand and neighboring regions because they also have to tend to their own needs.)
"We have to focus on our policy. Food security and jobs must be the utmost concern of the next administration," he said.
The real estate sector should not be wary of the proposed moratorium as they could still find business opportunities in highly-urbanized cities, the Manila mayor said.
"Wag muna natin kunin yung lupa ng magsasaka at engganiyuhin siya na panandaliang malaking pera… pero against the interest ng ating mga kababayan," he said.
(Let us not convert the land first and let us not entice farmers with huge sums... but at the expense of the interest of our countrymen.)
"Maraming opportunities sa Metro Manila. Kami nga nakakapagtayo ng housing," he said, referring to the Manila City government, which has constructed several vertical housing units within the capital city.
(There are a lot of opportunities in Metro Manila. We have even built new housing units in Manila.)
In 2016, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) proposed a 2-year moratorium on the conversion of land shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office.
The push to halt the processing and approval of all applications for all land-use conversion of agricultural lands for non-agricultural uses was headed by then-Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, one of the progressive Cabinet members in Duterte's first year in office.
But Duterte later slammed Mariano for the backlog in land use conversion cases at the department, saying the proposed moratorium is an example of red tape and may be an opportunity for corruption.
Farmers and land reform advocates have held several protests in front of the DAR office in Quezon City to scrap an order that streamlines the process of land use conversion.