A rice farm in Narra town, southern Palawan. | Photo courtesy of Tenggoy Sarmiento/ File photo

Narra mayor Gerandy Danao claimed that farmers whose lands are affected by mining operations in their town are not getting enough support from the Department of Agriculture (DA) in terms of receiving financial assistance.

Danao said that landowners are being prioritized by the department to the detriment of farmers.

“Marami akong nababalitaan na sistema na hindi maganda. May nangyayari kasi na ang mga binibigay na ayuda sa farmer ay hindi nakararating sa mga totoong nagsasaka. Alam ko ito, totoo, ‘wag lang masaktan ‘yong iba– Ang masama, ang mga benepisyo na dapat makarating sa mga farmer, sa mga may-ari ng lupa napupunta, hindi sa farmer,” Danao said.

“Yong mga farmer sa Narra ay nagrereklamo na dyan sa minahan, hindi na sila nakakaani nang maganda dahil sa epekto ng minahan,” he added.

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Danao urged the agriculture department to complete its inventory of farmers to ensure that they are the direct recipients of financial assistance.

The registration of qualified farmers eligible for government assistance is kept on file in the Registry System for Agriculture’s Basic Sectors (RSBSA).

“Sinasabi ko sa head ng Department of Agriculture na iayos ang pag-imbentaryo ng mga farmer. Na kung pwede ay ‘yong mga nagsasaka ang mismong makatanggap ng ayuda na galing sa gobyerno,” he said.

Cong. Cyrille Abueg-Zaldivar of the 2nd District backed Danao’s assertion and encouraged the DA to improve the distribution mechanism to extend the programs of the department to farmers.

“Of course, kagaya ng binanggit ni mayor Danao—meron mga ibang farmers na hindi nakakatanggap nito. Kaya niri-request din namin of course through the DA—I know the process can be siguro pwede pa natin i-improve para mapakalat pa natin itong iba’t ibang programa ng Department of Agriculture sa ating mga magsasaka,” she said.

Regional director Antonio Gerundio noted that DA has a validation process in place; the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) verifies the legitimacy of farmers seeking to register with RSBSA and the accuracy of their registration information.

“Ang una kasi nagsasala ng qualification ng farmers ay MAO’s office. Doon sa kanila nakadepende kung ano talaga ‘yong qualification ng isang farmer na nakapasa sa RSBSA,” he said.

Meanwhile, Maria Teresa Carido, DA MIMAROPA’s rice program focal point, refuted that the department’s aid is limited to landowners.

“We would like to clarify na hindi lang po landowners ang nakaka-receive ng assistance from Department of Agriculture. We also cater to those tenants for as long may proof na sila ay tenant din ng rice area. Nakalagay naman sa RSBSA registration if land owner or tenant ang farmer,” she said.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.