AGRARIAN Reform Secretary John R. Castriciones lauded the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) for joining the Department in its war against hunger and poverty.
A lawyer by profession, Atty. Castriciones said the BJMP has recognized the need to help strengthen the farming sector when it opens itself up as a marketing outlet for farmers products through the much ballyhooed “Enhanced Partnership Against Hunger and Poverty (EPAHP).”
“Poverty is getting widespread and so with unemployment because of the decline of the economy. More business firms are closing shops here and abroad, resulting in a great number of overseas Filipino workers returning home. It is only the agriculture industry that is keeping our economy afloat,” Castriciones said during the signing of separate Memoranda of Understanding between the DAR and the BJMP in Central Visayas (Region 7) and SOCCSKSARGEN (Region 12).
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, also a lawyer by profession, declared: “We are looking forward to zero hunger by year 2030.”
Nograles issued the bold declaration as he revealed that more and more government agencies, including the local government units, are expressing their desire to join the initiative against hunger and poverty, an indication that a promising future lies ahead for the country’s agriculture industry.
DAR Undersecretary for Support Services Office Emily O. Padilla, herself a lawyer by profession, said the BJMP centers in all but three of the country’s 16 regions have committed to buy their daily supply of food – rice, vegetables, fish, and meat – to agrarian reform beneficiaries organizations (ARBOs), as their simple way of helping farmers find regular buyers of their harvests and other farm goods.
“By its (BJMP) commitment, our farmers will be spared from dealing with middlemen or traders, who are usually buying the farmers’ produce at a very low price,” she said.
Shortly after, officials from the BJMP detention centers in Central Visayas and Central Mindanao forged agreements with different ARBOs to firm up their buyer-seller relationships, respectively.
Padilla said schedules are already set for the remaining three regions, Cagayan Valley (Region 2), the National Capital Region and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), to sign memoranda of understanding between the DAR and the BJMP to make the latter’s commitment complete.
“Malapit nang mag-grand slam ang BJMP,” Padilla, the brainchild of the said initiative, said in reference to the bureau’s all-out support to the anti-poverty program.
BJMP representative, Senior Supt. Flory Sanchez said that the forging to ties between the bureau’s detention centers and the farmers is a great undertaking as it ensures that “no detainee will go hungry anymore.”
Sr. Supt. Sanchez was apparently referring to the limited budget for the detainees’ daily subsistence, which could be maximized through much cheaper procurement and fresher farm goods from the farmers.
DAR-Central Visayas regional director, Atty. Resty Osias, said the (marketing) agreements would be of great help for the farmers as it would boost their income, while improving the provision of food to various detention centers.
DAR-SOCCSKSARGEN regional director Marion Abella echoed: “These agreements are intended to boost our ARBOs’ and their farmer-members’ livelihood and improve the well-being of our detainees. We can only expect for the best as everybody is showing sincerity to make these agreements work.”