Farmers from Cagayan and Capiz gain victories
Farmers from Maayon, Capiz gained victories from a dialogue with eight financiers (merchant-usurers) last March 26. Around 250 Maayon farmers participated in the dialogue which was organized by the Kahublagan sang mga Mangunguma kag Mamumugon sa Uma sa Capiz (Kammaca), a provincial chapter of Pamanggas-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
Among the most notable victories of the farmers is the reduction of monthly loan interest rates from 6-8% to 5%. Simultaneously, the farmers demanded that financiers buy their products at prices set in town centers. As some financiers did not sign agreement, the farmers demanded that another round of talks be held. Local government election candidates witnessed the dialogue and vowed to help the farmers as much as they could.
The farmers first held a dialogue on October 2018 to demand the reduction of monthly loan interest rates to 3% within four months, the cancellation of loan interests during calamities, and the setting of prices of their products based on prices in town centers.
Meanwhile, farmers from Cagayan were able to demand that loan interests be written-off during calamities, after 800 farmers from Baggao and nearby towns of Gattaran, Amulong, Alcala and Sto. Niño held a dialogue with seven financiers last March 15 in San Jose, Baggao. The dialogue was organized by the Baggao Farmers Association (BFA).
The agreement stipulates that financiers will not collect interest payments if crops are damaged by 50% or more due to a calamity. The BFA presented a comparative analysis of the farmers’ costs of production and their profits, showing their losses even during fair weather.
Despite this, the coverage of the agreement was not agreed upon by the farmers and financiers. The farmers demanded that it should cover September 2018 as this was when Typhoon Ompong severly hit Baggao. The financiers insisted the agreement would cover only future calamities. Msgr. Gerry Perez acted as intermediator in the dialogue while members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Baggao served as observers.