DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 05 June) — President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said the country must catch up with its neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
He acknowledged that the Philippines needs to work on improving its production capacity because the country is very dependent on imported goods from the ASEAN neighbors, although he said most of these agricultural commodities can actually be produced by Filipino farmers.
In his “One love. One Nation” thanksgiving party at the Crocodile Park on Saturday, Duterte acknowledged that relying so much on imported goods has its dangers like placing the Philippines “at the mercy of other ASEAN neighbors” such as Thailand, Vietnam,Malaysia and Laos.
Farmers apply pesticides on the ricefield within the Philippine Rice Research Institute compound in Barangay Bual Norte, Midsayap town, North Cotabato. MindaNews file photo by RUBY THURSDAY MORE
He also scored large multinational companies for converting lands once planted to staple rice and sugar into large plantations for export commodities such as pineapples, bananas, and coffee.
He said the country has “given so much to the multinationals.”
“It is a corporate endeavor nga dagko lang ang makakaya (that only these firms can afford to undertake). Mahurot na ang atong yuta og wala nay katamnan para sa atong pagkaon. (We won’t have lands anymore for planting rice). Because we are dependent on importations from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, so mao nay delikado sa atong sitwasyon (that’s why we are in a precarious situation) and we are always at the mercy of the other countries in ASEAN business,” he said.
Duterte acknowledged that the country still needs to “catch up and improve on everything” in the ASEAN Economic Community which intends to create a single market and production base within the economic region that allows free flow of goods, services, investments, and skilled labor.
He acknowledged that the Philippines needs to work on improving its production capacity because the country is very dependent on imported goods from the ASEAN neighbors, although he said most of these agricultural commodities can be produced by Filipino farmers.
“Ngayon kasi importation is allowed (by) WTO (World Trade Organization). There are special cases na magkakaroon ka ng tariff. That is not the rule, that is only the exception. The exception is lahat kung ikaw ay very talented man you can go to ASEAN countries… We cannot say we do not buy that particular food because we produce it here,” he said.
The Malaysian Trade (MATRADE) in Manila reported that Malaysia alone registered a total of $3.4 billion worth of exported goods to the Philippines.
Duterte said the country is losing P1.5 billion to P2 billion a day to corruption that, if used properly, could have been allocated for farm implements to awardees of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
“I could even buy your products and sell it at government price and to be competitive with the imports,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)