President Duterte pushes Masagana 99-like program to help typhoon-stricken farmers in Cagayan Valley

CITY OF ILAGAN, Isabela — President Rodrigo Duterte has espoused the implementation of a rice production-enhancement program similar to the Marcos era-project, “Masagana 99”, a subsidized credit scheme which focuses on high loan ceilings and low interest rates that was implemented in the 1970s.

“Maganda na nga yung Masagana 99, nagkaproblema lang sa (implementation). Nung humina siya, kanya-kanya nang tirada. Tinira ng tinira,” Mr. Duterte said in his Isabela and Cagayan visits to personally give employment assistance and relief packs to typhoon Lawin victims on Sunday.

He awarded agricultural assistance to Isabela with P37-million and Cagayan for P32.819-million for certified seeds for replanting, fertilizers and other inputs for typhoon-affected farmers.

The President said he will copy the major features of the project but will put safeguards so that it will be properly implemented and monitored through the national government and will be financed by the Land Bank of the Philippines’ loan program.

“This is not a dole-out. It is an interest-free loan but it is as if given free because it is payable in 25 years…kaya ibalik ko yun (Masagana 99),” he said, adding that the loans for fertilizer, irrigation, extension and technical support to farmers will be given to beneficiaries belonging to agricultural cooperatives in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Agriculture has the biggest chunk of budget, aside from health, food, and education, he added, saying that even the defense and interior departments have been sidelined with lesser-than-usual funds, Duterte said.

He also noted success stories in financing small and medium enterprises such as sari-sari stores to help villagers in the countryside. Villamor Visaya, Jr/