GOV. CUA SPEAKS to members of the Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform on establishing Catanduanes as the Abaca Capital of the Philippines.
Senators of the Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform promised to write to Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar, after their promised aid of Php 121 million has yet to reach the Province of Catanduanes.
Gov. Joseph Cua raised the issue during the Committee’s public hearing on Senate Bill 1798 by Senator Cynthia Villar, which aims to establish Catanduanes as the “Abaca Capital of the Philippines.”
“Apektado ang ekonomiya namin plus pandemic, kaya… ‘yun ang inaantay namin. Malaking bagay sa amin ‘yung cash-for-work dahil walang mga hanapbuhay ‘yung mga farmers ngayon na kung saan nga, kaagad may sweldo sila habang nag-re-rehab tayo ng abaca,” the governor said.
He noted that something similar to the Philippine Fiber Development Authority (PhilFIDA) and the DA’s cash-for work assistance during Typhoon Nina would be better than the current proposal of buying fertilizer.
“Dahil ang purpose ng cash-for-work, double purpose. Para sa time na walang abaca sa Catanduanes, nag-ca-cash-for-work tayo to replant the abaca, may income sila. May personal income, and then at the same time, naaapura ‘yung pag-rehab ng abaca ng Catanduanes,” he explained.
More aid for production
Gov. Cua also noted that assistance from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) should focus more on production rather than marketing.
“We thank the efforts of the DTI for the programs on training of handicrafts, but this only [composes] 3-5% of the total requirements. Since 95% goes to export for pulp and paper, we should focus more on the rehabilitation and production,” he said.
Members of the private sector including Executive Director Aurora Peralta of the Association of Abaca Pulp Manufacturers Inc. also expressed their support for more assistance to Catanduanes.
“Hindi lang po ma-inspire, kasi po, ang abaca sa Catanduanes, ‘yun pong mga farmers diyan, pwedeng sabihin na [sila’y] modelo. Dati nung nagtratrabaho ako sa [PhilFIDA], napuntahan ko na po ‘yung mga abaca plantation na ‘yan… Ang abaca sa Catanduanes, sila lang po ang may pinaka-malinis, pinaka-maayos na plantation,” ED Peralta said.
She concurred with Gov. Cua, noting that the lack of supply of abaca was hurting their business interests as well, forcing other fellow companies to import abaca from Ecuador and Costa Rica.
Committee members Senator Imee Marcos and Senator Nancy Binay also expressed their support and agreement during the hearing.
PhilFIDA is set to establish a Php 20-million abaca processing facility in the municipality of Caramoran.
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