ANAKPAWIS FILES HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 1548 ON THE GOV’T NEGLECT OF NORTHERN SAMAR FARMERS AFFECTED BY ABACA BUNCHY TOP VIRUS EPIDEMIC

Anakpawis files House Resolution No. 1548 on the Gov't Neglect of Northern Samar Farmers Affected by Abaca Bunchy Top Virus EpidemicAnakpawis files House Resolution No. 1548 on the Gov't Neglect of Northern Samar Farmers Affected by Abaca Bunchy Top Virus Epidemic

Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Quezon City

SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS
Second Regular Session

HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 1548

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INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES
ARIEL B. CASILAO
CARLOS ISAGANI T. ZARATE, EMMI A. DE JESUS, ANTONIO L. TINIO,
ARLENE D. BROSAS, FRANCE L. CASTRO, AND SARAH JANE I. ELAGO
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RESOLUTION
DIRECTING THE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND FOOD, AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION, TO CONDUCT A JOINT INQUIRY, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, ON THE APPARENT GOVERNMENT NEGLECT OF ABACA FARMERS OF NORTHERN SAMAR, AFFECTED BY THE ABACA BUNCHY TOP VIRUS EPIDEMIC, AND PERSISTENT EXPLOITATIVE AND UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES

WHEREAS, the Philippines continue to take on the role of a global supplier of cheap raw materials to developed countries, as demonstrated by the report of Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), the country is the largest producer of abaca fibers, supplying about 87% of the world’s requirement;

WHEREAS, abaca-producing provinces include Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Davao Oriental, Davao Del Sur, Surigao Del Sur and Northern Samar that involve about 176,549-hectares of land, cultivated by more than 122,758 farmers;

WHEREAS, raw materials from abaca fiber is used for manufacturing of electrolytic (condenser) paper, high grade decorative paper, Bible paper, dissolving pulp, tea bags, coffee filters, meat and sausage casings, special art papers, cable insulation papers, adhesive tape papers, lens tissues, mimeograph stencil base tissues, and carbonizing tissues;

WHEREAS, according to Northern Samar Small Farmers Association (NSSFA), the province is considered to be the regional hub in abaca production and second biggest abaca-producing province in the country covering a total of 10,290 hectares of land and each year, produces 3,381 metric tons;

WHEREAS, municipalities with the highest production are Las Navas, Silvino Lobos and Mondragon;

WHEREAS, despite from the abaca’s notable contribution to the economy, farmers remain poor and suffer from exploitative relations of production, at the same time, decry on the continuing neglect of the local government;

WHEREAS, NSSFA added that, abaca farmers continue to endure underpricing, high costs including transportation, negative net income and monopoly pricing by by traders;

WHEREAS, farmers sought redress from local government units but received inadequate response, hence, persist:

• barrio traders buy abaca at lower prices of P60 to 65 per kilogram while selling it to the municipal trading station for P70 to 72 per kilogram;
• farmers are forced to sell their produce to barrio traders who provided them with loans;
• the barrio traders who also own the “habal-habal” used for hauling the produce charge about P150 to 200;
• due to excessive costs and low prices, farmers usually end up with deficit as the usual cost of production amounts to P28,550 when their gross earnings from their produce were only at P26,000;
• all the production taks such as “hadhad,” “tadtad,” “turok,” “himari” and others cost P250 per day usually multiplied to an average 15 persons;

WHEREAS, Ching Bee Trading Corporation is the biggest trader in the province, who owns 60% of the total abaca export in the country, it is also affiliated with Specialty Pulp Manufacturing, Inc., operates a trading station in Catarman where it dictates the price at P81 per kilogram from local traders;

WHEREAS, there are thirty-six (36) traders and four (4) authorized Grading and Baling Establishments (GBEs) in the province which serve as intermediaries of abaca producers and export traders; who buy from barrio traders for P72 per kilogram;

WHEREAS, amid being systematically exploited from unfair trade practices, NSSFA also raised the alarm on the impact of bunchy top virus infestation on abaca crops, that resulted to a dramatic drop of 95% of production in the province;

WHEREAS, local farmers cried that the average yield of 200 kilograms dropped to 20 kilos per hectare; and in worse incidents no single abaca crop survived the infestation;

WHEREAS, the PhilFIDA concentrated its abaca pest management program in Leyte, thus, not reaching Northern Samar;

WHEREAS, according to news reports, PhilFIDA Eastern Visayas Regional Director Wilardo Sinahon claimed that due to massive infestation, the region’s production dropped to 8,418 MT in 2015 from 29,000 MT from 2003 that 31,871 farmers were forced to abandon cultivation and shifted to planting other crops,
WHEREAS, the agency also announced that in 2016, 60% of 46,360-hectares of abaca farms were productive while 40% were rehabilitated;

WHEREAS, NSFFA claimed that aside from being subjected to the abovementioned predicaments, farmers in the province are yet to recover from the damages brought about by Typhoon Nona that struck in December 2015, amounting to an estimated P19.1 million in the agricultural sector;

WHEREAS, NSSFA, with its regional farmers’ group SAGUPA – Sinirangang Bisaya and other people’s organization were able to bring up the issue of abaca farmers during a dialogue with officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in December 2016 and other agencies, as well as local government units, decisive actions are yet to be executed for the welfare of the affected population;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that the Committee on Agriculture and Food, and Poverty Alleviation, to conduct a joint inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the apparent government neglect of abaca farmers of Northern Samar, affected by the abaca bunchy top virus epidemic, and persistent exploitative and unfair trade practices.

Adopted,

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