22 March 2020
Action for Economic Reforms (AER) welcomed the release of the guidelines of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) on easing the movement of cargo and agricultural products while the enhanced community quarantine is placed over the entirety of Luzon. The details were issued by the DTI in its Memorandum Circular 20-06, dated March 19 and DA’s Memorandum Circular Numbers 7 and 9.
“We thank these agencies for initiating efforts in order to ensure the easier movement of essential products that the Filipino people need during this public health emergency. We must continue to make steps like these as a means to prevent panic and stem further uncertainty for the Filipino people,” AER president Jessica Reyes-Cantos said.
Ka Ed Mora, President of the Pambansang Kaisahan ng Magsasaka ng Pilipinas added, “(M)ahalaga na patuloy na makapagsaka at makapangisda ang ating mga mamamayan, hindi lamang dahil yun ang kanilang hanapbuhay. Kailangan ang patuloy na suplay na pagkain at ang walang balakid na pagluluwas ng mga ito sa syudad. Mabuti at matapos ang inisyal na kalituhan kung paano ang implementasyon, madaling nakapaglabas ang DA ng mas malinaw na panuntunan.”
(“It is essential that our farmers are fisherfolk are allowed to continue working. This is not only because this is their source of livelihood, but also because there is a need for a continuous supply of food that will also be delivered to different cities. We are thankful that the DA have now released guidelines to help clear up any previous confusion on the implementation of these measures.”)
Rebecca Malay of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement said it is important that these rules are cascaded and understood by everyone but most especially LGUs and authorities who implement the quarantine procedures lest they be used to extort money from food haulers and traders.
To paraphrase key provisions of DA’s Supplemental Circular Number 9 for the unhampered movement of all cargoes, agriculture and fishery products and inputs and agribusiness personnel:
- All agricultural supply stores/outlets nationwide and animal clinics must be allowed to operate under a skeletal force
- Inclusion of copra and other coconut products under food commodities
- All farming and fishing activities shall continue
- All farmers and farm workers, fisherfolk and agribusiness personnel and exempted from home quarantine provided that one does not exhibit any of the covid19 symptoms, the number of workers are kept to a minimum, social distancing and safety protocols and practiced.
In addition, Cantos stressed that strong information dissemination is required particularly on the ground level, so as not to affect the smaller producers.
“We hope that the DA and the DILG will also closely coordinate with the municipal agricultural officers or mayors in order to effectively spread these guidelines to our farmers and fisherfolk. This is necessary especially given that our smaller producers may not be aware of the updates posted on social media, since internet access may be limited in those areas,” Cantos explained.
Finally, Cantos called for the expeditious release of permits and IDs that are needed from large haulers and the relaxation of the deadline set today. (END)