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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, September 30, 2017
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Farmers' group thankful to Piñol

Sugar farmers and workers organization in Negros Occidental thanked Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol for his sincerity and commitment to help them improve their lives amid the crisisseen in the mono-crop industry of the province.

National Federation of Sugarcane Workers Chair Rolando Rillo said yesterday that they really felt his sincerity to help when he offered them farm equipment and scholarships for their children.

A dialog was held between NFSW and Piñol yesterday who was on a two-day visit in the province to listen to the problems of the local farmers and fisherfolk.

In an interview, Piñol said that if the problems of these militants could be addressed, they could be cooperative with the programs of the government.

He said the Duterte administration is thinking outside of the box to solve problems, especially of the farmers, to uplift their status.

"We do not have to be bureaucratic to address these problems, we just need to be soft on them," he said.

Piñol said he promised different things to be delivered to the farmers and they agreed to it.

Rillo said the secretary promised them farm equipment and implements, as well as scholarships for their children's education through Sugar Regulatory Administration fund.

Newly-appointed SRA chief Hermenegildo Serafica was also present in the dialog.

Piñol also said the farmers and sugar workers were not concerned but the appointment of Serafica, but about how the government solves the issues they face.

Rillo said they will submit position papers to the Department of Agriculture on the issue of free tarification of crops, adding that it might kill the livelihood of local farmers.

They also asked the help of Piñol on the issue of excise tax in sugar sweetened beverages, as well as on the crises in the sugar industry, he said.

Although some of their concerns were not part of the DA's obligation, Piñol assured them of his help, he said.

Rillo added that the secretary promised that he will come back to check on the progress in improving their situation, through solutions he will finalize one month from now.*MLG


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