Mom Blogger (MB): As a Mom blogger I’m very interested in the food for Filipinos first because first of all mothers are very concerned of how, where they will get a food for their children especially majority of their children. And now I noticed in your bill it is mostly infrastructure. my first question is what inspired you to start this bill and secondly do you have a way to make sure that the farmers can strengthen their livelihood, how can they sustain this production for the long term because food sovereignty is really a nice word but how would they go about it. Specifically please just give me just one example.
Jack Enrile (JE): Perhaps what we need to do is to initially discuss is what food sovereignty is? Everybody hears about food security, food self sufficiency and that has such a broad meaning when a household has food in their pantry in the refrigerator when there is food in sari-sari store, when there is food in grocery, supermarket, public market, “bagsakan” , a country or a place or a household is considered to be food secured especially if everything is normal there is no calamity there is no turmoil there is no problem in the society we tend to give food or the availability or the access to food a something that is quite innocuous . The consideration made for a mother or even a father as a part of the leader that provides the daily sustenance of a family is really how do I meet the nutritional and dietary requirements of my family while still maintaining the ability to sustain this within the income that I am generating, and so basically the decision makers at home, basically look at one, the availability of the food and secondly, the price the eating quality comes later and the availability of the family to spend behavioral satisfaction. So the consideration is as long as it’s available everything must be okay well the issue of the food sovereignty came about in the mid or late 1990 where it started at south America, it was a group of farmers not unlike yourself who said “teka muna we are beginning to notice that what we are eating on a daily basis and one is getting more expensive and two it’s not really coming from the area it is used to come from”. Before a country like Philippines that was ones considered to be agricultural leader in South East Asia “at least”, is now became the number 1 rice importer in the world in fact if you will look at the date April 13, 2008 because of our inability to be able to sustain the demand for rice and because that we are incapable at this point to produce sufficient rice for our country on that day alone the price of rice in the world rose by 30% because of the demand probability. So it got me to the thinking that we are an agricultural country I come from an agricultural district and most of my kababayan earned their living out of tilling the land that they have or catch fish and sell it in the market. And I was wondering why a district like that survive and so to the very early on we decided to test a little bit of an experiment and we decided to plow it into infrastructure that will allow farmers to gain access to the markets, increase their productivity, and basically increase their output and it actually succeeded there was a lot of increase in production between 1998 and 2012 and if you will look at agricultural statistics they can provide you some information. But the real point of food sovereignty that I would like to address is that we as a country and slowly loss the ability to feed ourselves. The majority of the product that comes from this country is not consumed by the people that actually grew it. The reason is because we do not have a national food requirement plan in place, we never have had. We always about agricultural modernization, there was a law that was passed in 1997 that created this agriculture modernization plus the unfunded mandate between 1997 to 2012 is close in 50billion so in other words even if you have a law if you do not have a mechanism to ensure that the law is implemented, if the law is deficient in a certain aspect you will not really have the productivity that you require to be able to feed oneself. If you read the whole bill the emphasis is not only “infra” the emphasis is really creating a plan so that every provinces every year will be guaranteed that every agricultural program that will designed will be tailored for the needs of that province. If the call is irrigation then The concentration of the plan is really for irrigation, if the call is for road works then the concentration must be in the highways and road projects and if the call is for subsidies, seed subsidies, fertilizer subsidies, fuel subsidies that is where the program is tailoring to. If the call is for the lowering the production cost by providing free irrigation to the farmers directly so that they will be more competitive with foreign imports then that Is the program that will be designed for that particular year, regardless of who seats as a President, who seats budget Secretary, who is Congressman, who is DA secretary, and who is the Secretary of DPWH if you have a yearly submittal from the provinces of provincial food requirement plan to a national food requirement plan and the corresponding agriculture infrastructure support, you are guaranteed an update in agricultural output in a year to year basis and that is basically the reason for me to push the issue of concept of food sovereignty because we need to localize production, localize distribution and consumption to ensure that for this and the succeeding generation we will have food that comes from our own boarders.
JE: We’re trying to get responsible and get people to talk about food sovereignty, not just as a concept but as something that can actually work. There is a great example of importing in Brazil, Belo Horizonte it’s a city of about two and a half million inhabitants and most of them were poor, most of them really came from urban areas and most of them are farmers. And what the local leaders did to spur the economy and to create the environment where he agricultural products can be produce and sold locally and so that the farmers will be engage to continue in farming and fisheries. What they did was, they chose the prime areas within the city to allow the farmers to set their quotas and produce at very-very low rate and they found out that by putting them in main arteries by putting them in strategic areas; 1. The consumption of local produced went up, 2. They found out that because they did not have o export the product and import it back in, because that is basically how the free market operates and the additional cost for their transportation for fuel.
They found out that the local consumers started to enjoy a 33% deduction in their food cost. Well at the same time, protecting the profit markets of the farmers so that model can work but it takes slugging and that is basically the aim of House Bill 4626. We really need to put a national food department to amendments in the corresponding agriculture, if you need the bill the provisions are very clear cut it is setting up in a full plan to build a strategic market place allocating the necessary resources to make the programs work and basically the specific areas that will only be use for food production both on land and the coastal area.
MB: My last follow up question is yes you said something about the bill but I think father Parsyente said that, ‘’A country needs more than what is done’’. So that’s why in the next congress, who will do this if you are in the senate/ if you are within the senate who will file this bill? And why did you not go to the 15th congress?
JE: I can’t answer why I didn’t go in the 15th congress. I had made my representation with the committee chairman. They are free to decide what is important and what is not important. It has been filed/ submitted to the committee that we approach the chairman of the committee of agriculture in the senate and spoke to him about this bill and at one point they promise to file a senate version of the bill, it did not proceed. I even approach/ invited my father to sectoral consultations in Cebu. But I guess it’s like anything if it’s not yet time, Kung hindi pa hinog kadalasan nabibinbin yan, but the important thing is to start the discussion always. It’s relatively new; the concept of food sovereignty is not something that is taking fractionate in this country it’s in the other country.
Most of the countries in South America inembrace yung concept, some of the country in South East Asia like Thailand and Vietnam, they embrace the concept of food sovereignty in fact you will see it in their investments in agriculture. We are counted over 100 million Filipinos the total land area that is actually be living already is about 1.4 million hectare for a counted of 100 million. In Thailand of a country for 65 million inhabitants they have about 10 million hectares for this program. So they had actually invested into agriculture and they are prioritizing it. We just have to take in this country the adoption of agriculture first policy and the allocation of necessary resources to get this full. But it can’t be done we still have a lot of blood and water resources that we can utilize if the policy is correct.
MB: We should raise awareness in blogwatch in our future articles
JE: You can start asking local restaurants, where are you sourcing the food you are serving are you getting it within the 50 kilometers. Are you supporting local farmers? You can ask the manufacturers, ‘’Mr. so and so where are you getting the raw materials for your chips, chicharon specifically is it within 50-60 kilometers’’ because there is an impact. Even Raj Patel, Do you know Raj Patel? He’s an economist and he talks about the value of nothing. And I read the interesting part of his book and it talks about the actual cost of the food that we eat. He talks about a hamburger in McDonalds, it cost a couple of dollars per patty but if you were to factor in the actual impact on the deforestation, because you have to clear the land the actual impact on the emission of the trucks that had to go back and forth to raise the cattle, provide the feeds, provide the necessary water to the trucks of the cattle if you have to pay for the electricity for running the abattoir. That one patty is not actually cost 2-3 $ it’s actually closer to 200 $.
It stands to reasons that if you adopt the concept of food sovereignty. You take it to consideration also the sustainability of particular industry and you know as ordinary citizens we can start demanding our local restaurants. Where are you buying? Tinatangkilik niyo ba ang local farmers natin? How is basically your bottom line affecting the actual price of good in the market place?
Buy local eat local.
Jack Enrile on strategic agricultural zones & his absentee record
Mom Blogger: How would your food department plan address the areas which was suppose to be agricultural but are always in the path of typhoons, nasisira yung mga food…
Jack Enrile: One of the thing that we want to push that’s why we really came on this particular measures one of the provissio9ns really is the establishment on a fair province basis, hopefully if we can do it in a per municipality basis or in a per baranggay basis of strategic agricultural loans. Wherein once this bill becomes law, those strategic agricultural loans cannot be use for anything else other than food production, you cannot convert the land for residential, you cannot convert the land for industrial, you cannot convert the land for commercial and the reason we want to do that is perhaps we are not in control to the tale of our population growth but despite the pressure for settlement. We need to ensure that we still maintain those irrigable and arable lands as a resource because once those are settled there will be no way that you can’t grow anything in those lots and plots anymore but before we do that you need to establish what the provincial food requirement plan is. So that you basically have a roll back or a blueprint without the necessary data on a year to year basis you will not know what sort of development that you will need to undertake to ensure that the agricultural requirement of Cagayan or Sultan Kudarat or Negros Oriental are actually met but the provinces that directly address your concern really is the establishment of a strategic agricultural zone of the fair province basis, so that from now until that bill is passed. You cannot use that particular part of land for anything other than food production.
The typhoons, the other problem that we need to address in this country is really the best use of land we will not know the best use of land without the comprehensive land use policy in this country and final parcel of the component of comprehensive land use policy we must undertake and understood the hazard mapping survey of our entire country to mitigate the impact of climate change which we uncertainly feel now. I remember when I was a younger guy in college in the early 80’s- late 70’s we were already talking about climate change but you know we tend to be strong and suspicious I said 25 years from now-30 years from now will be time we’ll experience climate change and guess what it’s actually happening now so yah we need to undertake a land use policy in this country to identify those areas that we can prefer for agriculture development and where humans can settle taking considerations the realities of environment that we are facing now
Mom Blogger: Just one more. Sir, no holds bar? Sir this is not my observation but this is something we just picked now from twitter. I was just grossing to the tweets and some people happened to be discussing you in running again and there was somebody said ‘Bakit siya? He has one of the highest absentees and records in congress.’
Jack Enrile: I n the 15th congress, I did not ask for a building I did not want one. The reason for that was because I really wanted to concentrate in this particular measure I wanted to be able to see it first time to another country and talk to people and ask the farmers and officials of what happening in their area. When I go on business… Unofficial leave. I’m conducting sectoral consultations and some part of the country without something wanted to sound flip. There is only a way for a congressman to be able to go around the country introducing a mission, getting impulse for the mission, time covered for the support of the mission and conducting sectoral consultations and at the same time to be in the congress on the same day.
And since I have no active role in the committee I was a member of the committee on agriculture and the reason I only joined that one committee and accounts appropriation in the basic needs way because of my desire to push for this advocacy on food sovereignty. So I have in the past 2 years actually conducted as part of my job as a congressman, sectoral consultation around the country and just conducted recently in Masbate and because of that this is the result, The House Bill 4626. If not the answer but an answer that would be able to guarantee that from down and whatever this may pass in future generation we will have a framework wherein the agriculture development can occur, So that was the reason why I’d been going out of the country.
Jack Enrile on Alfie Anido Issue
Jack Enrile: Dina Bonevie was the girlfriend of Alfie Anido, I never met Dina Bonevie. I saw Dina Bonevie was I think… I was invited to a Christmas party of the vice governor and she was the wife of the vice governor of Ilocos sur, I never met her in my life. In fact I could not met her because her neighbor was my wife…who was my girlfriend when I was 19 who became my wife. So Alfie Anido, I knew Alfie ever since grade school, he was I think a year behind me in Ateneo De Manila. He was my friend. Many years later after living in states for a while I came home for vacation nalaman ko na mag boyfriend na sila ni Katrina (senator Enrile’s sibling) I was happy… I was happy.
So I think it was around December time, I was eating here in Dusit hotel, across Dusit hotel dati dito sa corner ng Pasay road at EDSA, meron dyan isang eat all you can yung Miyako…okay…naalala mo yon? That was years probably a younger boy din but eat all you can, so syempre kain tayo ng kain. I was having dinner there with a group of friends one of them was senator Honasan parang kuya ko yan e. He was the head of security of the family at that time and there was a report in the radio that Katrina was in Antipolo and they were driving back from Antipolo to Alfie’s house in Bel air and medyo nababahala yung mga security ni Kat kasi kumakaskas si Alfie pauwi, tila yata nag aaway. So after a few minutes may nag report ulit na nakarating na si Katrina sa bahay ni Alfie sa Bel air. So we proceeded to eat, well tuloy yung catch–up namin ni Greg and nung friends namin since I was home in vacation. And then a few minutes later, tumayo si Greg I have to go, may problem yata doon sa bahay ni Alfie nandoon si Katrina ako naman komo mag kapatid kayo. Sama ako wala akong gagawin, sama ako. So dumating kami sa Bel air nakabukas yung ilaw nakabukas din yung pintuan. So ako naman lumakad ako sa loob ng bahay nila Alfie. I knew the family was friend with Alfie, I was friend with Babita and I saw Babita and I asked her where is Katrina and the door was open and Babita was tulala then I heard Katrina crying parang hysterical. Without any permission where Katrina was I just followed her voice I went upstairs and nakita ko yung pintuan nakita ko siya sa labas ng pintuan.. ‘Si Alfie , si Alfie’, sabi ni Katrina. ‘Bakit ano nangyari kay Alfie? Nasaan si Alfie?’, J.E. ‘Nandoon sa loob’, sabi ni Kat. Pagka kita ko may baril on the ground. When I look at him nakita ko there was a hole in his head. So obviously, because I guess of the lame people would think that I have anything to do with it and the finding show that he took his own life unfortunately, he took his own life.
Jack Enrile (What’s my difference to my father?)
Blogger: Everyone, they don’t know about Jack Enrile. They just know you’re the son of senator Enrile. For example for me I don’t follow politics, I only joined blog watch because I thought that I’m like most of the people we don’t follow politics but we just knew you thru what we see on t.v. what we see on radio. So, what is the difference between you and your father? How can you convince us to vote for you because for us if we don’t like your father we won’t vote for you?
Jack Enrile: I agree, well my orientation has basically in business all my life, I started my small business when I was in 18 years old and some of my ventures have been successful many have not but that’s part and partial of business life and I guess that’s also part and partial of political life . In terms of personality my father tends to be a little bit more emotional than I am I think, he certainly is more talkative than I am, his orientation has been in legal profession so if world views center about the law and how that applies to everybody else. My background was really in business and I thought I was really going to stay there but there was a calling that much later in life, I got into politics when I was in 14 and by today standards that is late, so I had basically choice if I had to choose business or give something back. And at first I was a reluctant politician I did not like you who are really engaged in it, my father was my father and I have my own thing in it until I was exposed to the politics of Cagayan, local politics. And I saw the potential of the people of Cagayan; we are district we’re very parochial we think in terms of the 10 towns of a district or the 150thousand or so people that actually inhabit that particular corner. But to make a conscious decision, to get into something you’re not at that point in life so comfortable with because of your desire to contribute I think speaks something about the person. And having basically devoted the first 40 years of my life to raising my family, providing my family, giving myself the opportunity in life that many people desire, I thought that there was a point in my life that I was going to give back, because I am comfortable in the beginning? No I’m not, I’m not that typical type of politician that basically engage within the circles of what you would consider a politician, I still consider myself as an outsider and I bring that perspective to leadership, I always try to think of what you think. Well in 1999 I wanted to do the same thing but only in terms of legislation I did not want to have a lot of it, I wanted to focus on specific bills and on the 11th congress where I first win I was the 1st one to file that Batas Kasambahay. It was never filed in this country before that. Was I successful? It took us 14 years to pass that bill almost the same amount of time as the RH, It was only signed into law a couple of weeks back in January 18, but I was the first, now do I take credit for that? Of course not, no one congressman, no one senator can lay clean to any piece of legislation no matter how brilliant, but you need to start it just like you guys, you started this blog watch, you started with the vision of staying there in six months, then you went a year then you add a year the same thing with me, I started one term, then perhaps another term then the third term and I rested one term and then I came back again. The food sovereignty bill is the same story it is something new, something innovative, something that I wanted to throw out there just like you to be able to engaged the other leaders of this country to look at this particular issue and come up to something that will benefit this country, that is why I’m running. I’m not saying that you vote for me I just want you to know why I am running.
Blogger: Have you ask for the help of your father?
JE: He never campaigned for me, I never campaign for him. We always have sort of differing political views on how politics should be in this country; perhaps maybe that’s why I’m not within the in gap.
Blogger: can you give some of the differences with your father?
JE: On the certain position we differ on the RH we differ, I supported the RH Bill. On the sin tax he was against it. I pushed for the sin tax. I don’t differentiate myself to be different, on the sin tax the administration needed to raise revenues, now mind you that was 60billions. I thought that was a good compromise between the needs to raise of revenues and the need for us to sort of sacrifices, the man will go down certainly but you can introduce new crops to help of the farmers and that was taken into consideration. I always ask him why he was always associated with the former president Marcos, how he could continue to serve the former president. Those are the days where father and son differ but it does not mean that if I am in the senate I will be a willing luck dog to my father and he knows that. And he will be the first one to tell you that, “yan si Jack may sariling pananaw yan.”