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DA worker writes open letter for Chel Diokno

By Mavic Conde

A government agriculture worker wrote an open letter for senatorial candidate Chel Diokno after his visit in Albay.

“Pumukaw ng aking atensiyon ay nang banggitin niyo ang National Food Security Law. Isang batas na naglalayong paigtingin ang kahalagahan ng agrikultura at pangingisda sa ating bansa,” the open letter read.

Andrew Cabiles penned it after he attended Diokno’s event on Feb. 6 at the Albay Astrodome, where he met with the youth for “townhall conversations and sectoral meetings”.

Cabiles has been working for the provincial agriculture office for two years now. “That’s why I got happy when you mentioned [the law],” he said in the letter, adding: “Part of my job is to nullify farmers’ debts because of irrigation service fees.”

According to his letter, he’s convincing farmers (mostly in the third district of Albay) to apply for the condonation of their debts through the Republic Act 10969 or Free Irrigation Service Act, which aims to free farmers with 8 hectares of land and below of their respective debts.

However, there are challenges like farmers don’t have the complete documents needed for the application. There’s also the lack of money for the processing of their application, and now the restrictions brought by the pandemic, Cabiles said.

Cabiles also wrote about the struggles of rice farmers, especially with the high cost of fertilizers and the low market price for unmilled rice. “These high capital requirement and poor return of investment force farmers to borrow money for the next planting time,” he said.

Cabiles wasn’t able to talk to Diokno during the event’s forum because time was limited, but he hoped the letter would reach him.

“Many of these farmers are already old and sick,” he said in the letter which he posted on Twitter.

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