I am a voracious reader. For the past days, the news on the impending rice shortage not only in the Bicol Region but the country as a whole is very alarming. I read in back issues, both the national newspaper and broadsheets of the National Food Authority’s (NFA) report not only at the national level but the regional on the impending rice shortage. Glaring, in the Bicol Region, the NFA has admitted to the public that it has no more buffer stock in its warehouse. How will Bicol be able to feed its 5,796,989 population noting that according to NFA’s report, its buffer stock will only last for 15 days.
As an owner of 120 hectares of land in Ticao Island, Masbate devoted to rice field, aside from the reports stating causes of rice shortage such as: stoppage on rice importation; lack of financial support/assistance to farmers; lack of farm-to-market roads and other infrastructures like irrigation; low price buying from the government compelling the farmers to sell the rice to businessmen, even to hoarders, the NPAs’ land grabbing/sequestration through its taxation or the so called “Agraryong Rebolusyonaryo” adversely aggravates the rice shortage situation. Except for the victims of said taxation, only a few has knowledge or ideas on said taxation. People really don’t know the real nature of the NPAs as they hide under their cloaks and made people believe of their pro-poor image.
I know the schemes/mechanism and even the real purpose of the said NPA taxation having been a victim for quite some time. There several farmlands (some of them owned by friends) which have been physically sequestered from the owners, specially those straddling the barangays of Tuguron, Monreal and Danao, San Jacinto, also in Ticao Island, Masbate which are under the NPAs’s Agraryong Reblusyonaryo. These are planted mostly with rice and some coconuts. Some of the owners/landlords have yielded to said taxation, some even have turned to be voluntarily and directly succumbed to such demands in fear of reprisals.
The Agraryong Rebolusyonaryo’s or agricultural tax1 ultimate aim is to equally and freely distribute the land for the tillers, free distribution of land to the landless members to include the regular NPAs and their families. Tenants, ranchers or rich landlords, agricultural capitalists, landowners and even tenants are being collected with the said tax. Currently, this system of land ownership literally focuses on owning the lands by force by the NPAs for their financial and logistical build up. Among the schemes of NPAs’ are: Kumpiskado - wherein the land or the production is already confiscated by the NPAs. This means that the NPAs are already controlling the land. The tenants are already members of the organization. Victims of this are those people who are not cooperating with them or not sympathetic to their cause; the Abandonado - the land is already abandoned by the owners for fear of the NPAs. The owners are no longer interested in the land. This land will be subdivided to all members of the mass organi
zation (landless people and the taxes will be collected by them); and, Donado or donated- the land was donated by sympathizers or supporters to the NPAs.
The abovementioned lands could have been planted more with rice, however, there are a number of these lands with no rice plantation or “artificially barren” as the NPAs themselves are irresponsible in making them productive. They do not have the technical know how, and many times they are not around to look after the land as they are preoccupied in their “armed confrontations and non-armed” struggle with the government.
NPAs are also consumers of rice, the staple food of the Filipinos. The rice shortage in the Bicol Region is a lesson learned to all Bicolanos, though I am very lucky of may not experiencing the problem on rice shortage, how about the rest in the Bicol Region. For one, we need to be good stewards on what God gave us.... be it in many forms.. farmlands or ricefields, among others.
Ticao Island, Masbate