ACCORDING to an official in the House of Representatives, President Marcos asked those in charge of preparations to keep his first State of the Nation Address simple so the public can focus their attention on his message.
Everyone is wondering what Bongbong will tell us in his first SONA this Monday, July 25, 2022. My guess is that we would hear him talk about food security and agriculture which he already mentioned during his first few days in office.
The reality is that all of us want a program that would give new life to agriculture such that farmers and fishermen could happily produce food at reasonable prices if their living standards are acceptable or on average.
If agricultural work provides good employment and good money, this could encourage farmers to tend their farms, instead of migrating abroad to work as domestic helpers, caregivers or accept other low-paying jobs.
Still, people with eyes glued on TV sets; especially farmers, fisherfolk and daily wage earners, would want to hear from Bongbong Marcos what he proposes to do with high prices of food and fuel.
Naturally, no president would want these problems during his or her term of office, but these are things that are motivated by outside factors beyond their control such as the COVID-19 pandemic, wars, soaring oil prices, population explosion, and climate change.
Then maybe President Marcos would invite the private sector to invest in public projects, knowing fully well that the growth of a country is one heavy load that the government could not carry alone. Here, local governments should invite private investors to help in food production.
Congress and the executive department knew for the longest time that farm workers are not capable of competing with other farmers in Asia and Europe because we do not have the technology and the machines.
That could be the reason why President Marcos Jr. last week mentioned something about improving farm inputs and irrigation systems, providing farmers with better seeds, and distributing pesticides and fertilizers.
If the public-private partnership or PPP in agriculture is successful, we expect to see our farmers exporting their products soon. This situation would certainly invite more investors in food security.
In this case, the production of rice and corn, vegetables and fruits, livestock, poultry, and fish improves. It follows that agricultural revenue increases and farm employment opens up, creating a situation where farming becomes a major donor to a nation’s wealth.
I remember a time when the “Green Revolution” was taught in public high schools that had open spaces. It was fun as we were trained with the basics of gardening. For trivial reasons, this was stopped by Cory’s kind of revolution.
Furthermore, I anticipate President Marcos Jr. to talk about constructing more roads, bridges and ports for smooth transport of products from the farm to the markets, not necessarily a continuation of the “build, build, build” project of ex-president Digong, but doing it on his own.
PPP would be of great help in uplifting agriculture and investing in farm to market accessibility. Here, the government could save money that it could allot for the health, education and social welfare sectors.
To me, all of the above are meant to alleviate poverty in the rural communities, where employment becomes available and makes living conditions more acceptable. At the same time, the farm produces more food.
This will be the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in 2020 that all 315 members of the House of Representatives and 24 senators will be face-to-face with each other. Prior to that, congress will open session at 10 AM on Monday where Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, a first cousin of the President, is expected to be elected Speaker.
By Monday morning too, we will know if Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers will steer the floor as the new majority leader as Romualdez assured lawmakers that their parties will equitably be represented under his term, a time-honored tradition.
His term will also follow the seniority system, merit and experience, and the initiative to make the sacrifice and hard work needed for each of the positions. Any chairmanship for a questionable solon in the Cordillera?
How easily we forget. This year, I did not hear anyone from city hall talk about the “Killer Earthquake of July 16, 1990” (Killer EQ90) or its 32nd anniversary. The day before the anniversary of the Killer EQ90 is the fourth anniversary of the Cordillera provinces when they were again lumped into a single region.
The Killer EQ90 is worth recalling because it took 2,412 lives and injured 3,513 individuals; destroyed 98,574 houses and 200 schools; erased 56 roads and 30 bridges from the map, and taught people to kneel and pray.
The shaking lasted for about 45 seconds which left an estimated $369-million worth of damages. An estimated total of 283,087 families or 1,594,040 individuals were adversely affected according to a report by the United Nations disaster team.
The strongest earthquake with a magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale that occurred at 4:26 pm on a Monday was due to strike-slip movements along the Philippine Fault and the Digdig Fault within the Philippine Fault System.
The epicenter was near the town of Rizal, Nueva Ecija, northeast of Cabanatuan City. The earthquake hit Northern and Central Luzon. The most affected areas were the cities of Baguio, Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija, and Dagupan in Pangasinan.
By October of the same year, the government targeted a reconstruction and development program. The roads leading to Baguio were cleared while some business establishments such as restaurants and dry goods centers, including the public market, reopened.
Today, we no longer see scars of the Killer EQ90 as everything that has been destroyed has been restored, except for the deaths of thousands. And some brains that were also shaken violently in 1990 have not recovered until now.