CONCEPCION, Tarlac (May 3, 2023) — “All roads lead to Concepcion.”
This was the pronouncement of Senator Imee Marcos as this agricultural town became her last stop which saw her travel to Gerona town and then to La Paz.
About 4,000 townsfolks at the Col. Jesus R. Lapus Memorial Sports Complex in Barangay San Nicolas Poblacion here warmly welcomed the senator from Ilocos Norte.
The senator greeted the audience in Kapampangan – “Komusta kayu? Mayap a abak keko ngan!” the Senator said, much to the delight of the people.
Concepcion is the only town in Tarlac province where then-candidate and now-President Ferdinand Marcos Jr lost in the 2022 general elections.
Among other guests of the town were Governor Susan Yap, Vice-Governor Carlito David, First District Congressman Jaime Cojuangco, Second District Congressman Christian Yap, and Third District Congressman Noel Rivera.
They were warmly welcomed by Mayor Noel Villanueva and Vice-Mayor Carla Bautista, and the local council.
In Gerona, Sen. Marcos was joined by Tarlac Governor Susan Yap in handing out Emergency Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (E-AICS) to 1,000 families affected by Typhoon Karding last year.
The senator and her staff then flew to the eastern town of La Paz where she was met by Vice-Governor Carlito David to give out E-AICS to another 1,000 families.
Meanwhile, a total of 988 families received P3,000 assistance each in Concepcion.
OF NUTRIBUN AND NUTRI-BUS
Senator Marcos urged Mayor Villanueva and Rep. Rivera to pool funds to buy a Nutri-Bus to fight malnutrition.
“Ang malnutrisyon sa bansa natin ay nasa murang edad, from babies to under three years old. Nag-Nutri-Bus po kami para nakakaluto ng arroz caldo, champorado at parang Cerelac para mapakain sila.
“Ang mahalaga ay para magkaroon sila ng protein. Hindi lang tinapay kung hindi pati protein na 10-13 grams man lang kada serving. Ang nakakatakot kasi kapag sa murang edad under three years old kapag hindi nakakain [nang tama] – nagkakaroon ng brain stunting. Mahahabol ang timbang, mahahabol ang tangkad pero hindi nahahabol ang development ng utak. Hindi naman pwede yun dahil baby pa lang ay luging-lugi na akaya kawawa ang mga anak natin,” the lady senator said.
ON RICE FARMING
On the question about Tarlac being the country’s rice granary, Senator Marcos said there is a financial assistance program for farmers.
“Nag-umpisa na sa Pangasinan ang Rice Tariffication Fund. Ito yung pondong financial assitance opara sa ating mga rice farmers. Merong P5,000 kada rice farmer.
Mayor Villanueva said that rice farmers were already given financial assistance twice in Concepcion town.
“Nagkaroon na ng second wave of financial assistance to our rice farmers,” Villanueva said.
The funds come from the rice importation taxes that the government collects.
“Yung buwis na nakokolekta doon ay dapat ibigay sa ating mga magsasaka para maging competitive sila,” Marcos added.
The Rice Tariffication Law has created the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (Rice Fund), which establishes the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Program to complement and supplement the existing Department of Agriculture – National Rice Program.
The Rice Fund has a P10 billion annual budget.
Marcos, however, scored the outdated list of the Department of Agriculture.
“Ang problema ay yung ibang listahan sa RSBA hindi updated. nananawagan ako sa mga mayor natin at mga kapitan na pakialaman ang listahan ng DA at marami roon ang patay na, nag-abroad na at kung saan-saan na, samantalang yung talagang nagsasaka hindi nakalista,” the senator revealed.
YOUNG FARMERS CHALLENGE
Marcos lamented that the average age of farmers is 58 but shun the use of technology.
She said that young Tarlac farmers under 30 are using modern technology to increase yield and sell directly to traders using apps and B2B [Business-to-Business] transactions online.
“Nakita ko na maraming bata na interesado pa rin sa pagbubukid kaya nga lang kailangan pa rin ng konting tulak dahil walang lupa at walang puhunan,” Marcos said.