MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 1 April) – Time and again, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Agriculture Secretary William Dar have reminded local officials that the delivery of food and agricultural supplies shall remain unhampered despite the lockdowns due to the COVID-19 threat. The two officials issued the clarification following complaints reaching media that vehicles carrying these goods were being barred at checkpoints.
At least two reasons could have caused the confusion: either local officials are not listening to Año and Dar, or they think they have the prerogative to defy the guidelines from the national Inter Agency Task Force.
Perhaps it’s the enthusiasm of local officials to protect their people from infection that have made them stricter than necessary. But they didn’t seem to realize that their action, no matter how well-intentioned, has only set the stage for yet another problem in the future.
Local officials must understand that hampering the flow of food and agricultural supplies affects not only the livelihood of farmers and merchants, and the availability of their produce for the duration of the lockdowns.
This measure will discourage farmers from planting more than what they need for household consumption. Those who may still wish to plant for the market can’t do so with the lack of fertilizers and other inputs. Livestock raisers will have to close their hog and poultry farms with the difficulty of getting feeds and veterinary items on time.
Think of the food scarcity the inconsistency between the guidelines and the ground implementation would cause. At stake here is food security now and after COVID-19.
If local officials don’t want to listen to Año and Dar, who, by the way, are alter-egos of the President, they should at least listen to the voice of reason.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected].)