Price plunge forces Benguet farmers to give away carrots

The STAR Cover (Janu ary 4, 2023)

MANILA, Philippines — The National Security Council (NSC) slammed yesterday the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) for calling on its armed members to launch fresh and bigger attacks against the government despite ongoing exploratory talks on possible peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway.

The communist movement released a statement on its 55th founding anniversary last week directing its armed members to “stir up and spread the flames of the people’s war.”

NSC assistant director general Jonathan Malaya said the CPP-NPA-NDF should encourage communist rebels to lay down arms in support of the Joint Communique issu ed on Nov. 23.

Malaya said the remaining members of the CPP-NPA launched a so-called 3rd Rectification Movement on Dec. 26, 2023, telling all its committees to further advance the revolutionary armed struggle while it is engaged in exploratory peace talks with the government.

Malaya said the NSC and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Confl ict (NTF-ELCAC) are “disappointed and perplexed by the statement of the CPP central committee.”

The CPP-NPA-NDF reaffirmed i ts allegiance to Jose Ma. Sison’s obsolete Marxism-Leninism-Maoism application to Philippine conditions, he said.

“Instead of abandoning arms and preparing for the NPA’s transformation provided in the Oslo Joint Communique, the CPP has called for a rectification movement, doubling its commitment to continue the armed struggle, which it calls as the ‘national democratic revolution’ toward complete victory,” Malaya said.

“To make matter worse, the CPP called the forthcoming exploratory peace talks as an additional battlefield to advance the national democratic cause. This only means that the CPP has not abandoned its original position,” he added.

Malaya noted that the NSC has always been one with the Philippine government in supporting the exploratory talks with the NDF.

He described the move as “a major step as both parties agreed to a principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict and, most importantly, ending the armed struggle.”

“Both sides also agreed that the exploratory talks will pave the way for the transformation of the CPP-NPA-NDF from an armed force devoted to a ‘people’s war’ to an above-ground political movement that is the government’s partner for peace and development,” he said.

“If we can prevent bloodshed and prevent the loss of more lives, exploratory talks are worth considering, even if there are now zero active guerrilla fronts,” he added.

Malaya said the NPA’s armed strength is down to less than 1,500 fighters nationwide.

He said the statement of the CPP goes against what has been agreed by both parties in the Oslo Joint Communique.

The CPP posted its anniversary statement online.

MANILA, Philippines — Farmers in Benguet were forced to distribute for free carrots whose farmgate price dropped to P1 per kilo, as local dealers blamed the flooding of smuggled vegetables for the slump in the cost of local highland vegetables.

In a radio interview, La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post vegetable dealer Lorna Menzi said carrots were given away for free in Benguet, particularly in Baguio City.

“The medium and small sized (carrots) were released and given for free in different barangays,” Menzi said.

“Since the flooding of smuggled carrots, this has been the scenario as consumers prefer big carrots,” she added.

On social media, photos and videos showed residents and tourists picking up carrots after kilos of vegetables were left at Burnham Park in Baguio City.

“We are not sure if these are fresh, as the carrots were placed in the container vans for a long time,” Menzi said, warning the public of the dangers posed by consuming smuggled carrots.

The proliferation of smuggled big carrots, she noted, has persisted in the last two years.

The dumping of highland vegetables could continue as peak harvest season starts this month, she added.

Despite the dumping of carrots, the retail price in Metro Manila markets remains high. Based on monitoring of the Department of Agriculture, the cost of the vegetable ranged between P80 and P160 per kilo.

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