Picking a presidential candidate | Inquirer Business

Picking a presidential candidate

To have a bright rather than dismal next six years, picking the right presidential candidate is crucial. From an agriculture point of view, it is the difference between fortunate and fatal. Fortunate, because it will finally bring justice and good fortune to our neglected and abused farmers and fisherfolk. Fatal, because it may put the final nail in the coffin of our slowly dying agriculture sector.

The Alyansa Agrikultura (AA), founded in 2003 with 32 farmer and fisherfolk organizations, has been trying to help voters in the agriculture sector pick the right presidential candidate since 11 years ago. For the 2010 elections, the AA met the presidentiables in a well attended forum. But since it was a large group, this resulted in generalities with no specific commitments.


For 2016, following the concept that it takes a village to raise a child, AA helped organize the AgriFisheries Alliance (AFA). This included four other different sectors: agribusiness (Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc.); science and academe (Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines), rural women (Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan); and multisectors (AgriFisheries 2025).

New strategy

The AFA decided to ask the commitment from each presidentiable for the six most important specific recommendations. Since each subsector presented five recommendations, selecting six from 25 was difficult. In fact, the science and academe sector was disappointed that research lost to extension because the majority believed that using existing research was more needed than new research.


To get the presidentiables’ involvement, AFA made an agreement that the largest circulated newspaper would give front-page coverage for each presidentiable who would discuss the six priority recommendations.

Unfortunately, all the presidentiables except one refused to talk to the AFA leaders in public. They said they had not given much thought to agriculture, and might get embarrassed if this became obvious.

That agriculture did not get the priority during the campaign resulted in agriculture not getting attention when they got elected. For example, during the nine years prior to the pandemic, agriculture increased yearly by only 1.6 percent, compared to industry’s 6.8 percent.

For 2022, the AFA changed the strategy. They teamed up with two new major allies. The first is the Federation of Free Farmers. It has a sterling record spanning the last 68 years since its 1953 founding. The second is the Bayanihan sa Agrikultura. Though founded only this year, it is composed of 340 nongovernment organizations that produced the excellent “Filipino Farmers and Fisherfolk Agenda 2021-2024.” This agenda served as a good basis for the next game-changing document agreed upon unanimously by the five organizations: “Transform Agriculture for Food Security, Job Creation and Balanced Growth.”

This document contains 12 recommendations that were given to the presidentiables one month ago. The presidentiables were requested to give their individual position on each of these recommendations. This information will help agriculture-related voters who contribute directly and indirectly 35 percent of our gross domestic product.


Unlike six years ago, the presidentiables are now ready. In the past month, they have been studying 12 twelve recommendations which will be the subject of interviews to be conducted by the leaders of the five organizations. These interviews will be widely publicized through radio, television, print and social media. This public exposure will continue over the next five months. This way, agriculture will generate more in depth analysis and creative solutions which our citizens, as well as the elected president, will greatly benefit from.

The first phase of the presidentable interviews solely on agriculture includes Mayor Isko Moreno at 9 a.m. on Nov. 26, Vice President Leni Robredo at 8:45 a.m. on Nov. 29, and Senator Bongbong Marcos at 10 a.m. on Dec. 6. For those interested, the link is ZOOM ID 875-1734-2767 with passcode agri2022. Facebook live is https://facebook.com/agri2022ph/. The videos will also be uploaded on YouTube.


With initiatives like this, picking the right presidentiable who will support and help agriculture achieve its full potential will now be more probable.

The author is Agriwatch chair, former Secretary of Presidential programs and projects and former undersecretary of DA and DTI. Contact is [email protected]

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