Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan says that the closure of the Ford assembly plant in the country is a wake-up call showing the crucial role that rural folk play in generating demand for the manufacturing sector.
“It is lamentable that in a country with a population of over 90M, there just isn’t enough business for local car manufacturing. This is in sharp contrast to a country like Thailand, with a population of only 60M, but which has the biggest demand for 4X4 vehicles worldwide attributed to the sharp increase in farmers’ incomes.”
“The 4X4 is the vehicle of choice of the Thai farmer,” Pangilinan stresses.
Pangilinan, the chairman of Senate the committee on Agriculture and Food, earlier called on the government to focus on modernizing the country’s agriculture and fisheries sector and at least doubling the incomes of farmers and fisherfolk. He says doing so would have a multiplier effect on the country’s economy.
“Without increased incomes in the agriculture sector we cannot hope to squarely address poverty, and unless poverty is addressed the rural population’s purchasing power will remain weak.”
He emphasizes, “Only by strengthening the purchasing power of our rural folk can we hope to have significant increases in the demands of the manufacturing sector. Greater incomes of our farmers and fisherfolk will mean greater demand for goods and services.”
Pangilinan says that a farmer in Thailand earns three times more than Filipino farmers, and Chinese farmers earn twice their local counterparts.
“Filipino farmers earn, on average, a measly P23,000 annually. Our farmers earn less than P2,000 per month. That’s not even enough for them to meet their daily needs. If we are able to increase their income, and they comprise half of our country’s workforce, then their purchasing power would result in increased demand for goods and services. We cannot emphasize enough the tremendous impact this would have on our economy. It’s about time we address this issue and propel our economy forward.” (press release from the Office of Senator Kiko Pangilinan)