Now that Cebu Province’s tourist activities have finally reopened, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia will tackle once again the Provincial Government’s enhanced countryside development (ECD) program.
She is set to meet with representatives of three government banks which agreed to bankroll the program this week, the governor said in a press conference on Sunday, August 2.
Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and Philippine Veteran’s Bank (PVB) agreed to come up with an initial P20 billion agricultural funds for farmers whether they be small, medium, or large, for a very small interest.
Cebu Province will serve as the guarantor in the loans.
Garcia shared how she was moved when President Rodrigo Duterte highlighted tourism and agribusiness in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA), which the Province has focused on even before it was placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
“I was so touched of the message of the President sa SONA because he brought up the two concerns that we have been focused on in the past, even during the time wala pa ta ma MGCQ, nagsige natag plano para sa economic recovery of Cebu,” she said.
Garcia held a series of meetings when the Province was still under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), discussing the ECD program which will bring jobs to the countryside, making a shift “from ECQ to ECD.”
“Daghan kaayo tag idle lots. Soon I will be signing an Executive Order. We have identified the idle lots og ang mga owners ani, pointing out to them that if your lot is uncultivated you will be subject to ad valorem tax and we are now computing how much will have to be paid,” she said.
Section 236 of the Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 provides that a province or city or a municipality within the Metropolitan Manila Area may levy an annual tax on idle lands at the rate not exceeding five percent (5%) of the assessed value of the property which shall be in addition to the basic real property tax.
However, Garcia said the Provincial Government is considering a grace period of six months for lot owners to cultivate their idle lots.
“We are considering, though, a reprieve. Basin tagaan natog certain period like six months for them to cultivate it, para dunay reprieve on the payment of ad valorem. If di gyud nila i-cultivate, then we’ll have to impose the tax as provided under LGC,” she explained.
The governor said they are looking into Bogo City, Medellin and San Remigio in northern Cebu for large farming areas.
“Mao ni ang sugarcane area, where there are vast track of lands planted with sugarcane. But it would seem nga karon every time I pass, muadto kog north murag wala na gyuy cultivation, murag nabiyaan na,” she said.
Garcia will set a meeting with the Cebu North’s Sugarcane Planters Association as well and see if they can shift from sugarcane to planting corn or cassava which the Capitol has identified sure buyers.
“The Province will be coming in. In so far as the corn is concerned, I have already initially talked with all of our feed mills - feed mills that are here, located in Cebu. As I already said, we are only achieving one percent of the total needs, ang atong corn production diri one percent ra sa total needs (of the feed millers),” she said.
The Province is currently trying to develop a method where it will serve as a middleman between the farmers and the feed millers to ensure the equilibrium.
Garcia clarified the Capitol will not get even a single centavo out of this. Capitol’s intervention is to ensure correct harvest price for the farmers and correct volume for the buyers.
“Ing-ani ang presyo per kilo, which we will tell the farmers. Kay para pag-abot sa harvest dili kay mukalit og kanaog ang presyo or musulod ang middlemen. Ang Province na mag-middleman nga way ginansya napod ha, klaruhon ta ni. Basin naa napuy muingon ‘talagang papasok ang province para may komisyon,” Garcia explained.
The San Miguel Corporation, Garcia said, committed to purchase corn or cassava, regardless of the volumes, adding that their technical men will come to Cebu to train farmers how to plant cassava in the areas which were identified by the Provincial Agriculturist Office. (Mylen Manto)