Not very many people know it but the recent agreement between the government and the New People’s Army (NPA) to declare an indefinite ceasefire will have a huge impact on agriculture.
That is if along with the silencing of the guns, the collection of the revolutionary taxes by the NPAs will finally be stopped.
For decades now, Filipino farmers in the countryside have been affected by the endless fighting between the government soldiers and the Communist rebels.
More than that, the NPA’s revolutionary taxes have made life very difficult for the poor farmers, including big agricultural plantations who have been attacked for not paying up.
Rubber, coconut, oil palm and banana farms are subjected to revolutionary tax collections by the NPA cadres who claim that the funds are needed to wage the “people’s revolution.”
Of course, the farmers suffer from the revolutionary tax collections, especially so since most of the agricultural areas in the NPA influenced areas were ravaged by the El Niño.
The NPAs have imposed taxation on every rubber tree, every coconut tree and every oil palm tree standing. They also collect huge fees from both small and big banana plantations.
But with prices of rubber cup lumps falling from over P90 per kilo a few years back to only P20 today and the prices of coconut and oil palm also at record low levels, the NPA taxation is an added burden on the poor farmers.
There was no definitive announcement on whether the ceasefire declaration would also mean a temporary cessation of the collection of the revolutionary taxes.
This is an issue which I will bring to the attention of the government negotiators so that it could be discussed during the next meeting of the panel of negotiators.
Just like the successful ending of hostilities, the monthly collection of taxes from poor farmers should also stop.
If that is done, there will be true peace at last.
#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers! #PeaceAtLast!