Statements: Justice for tobacco farmers of Ilocos


June 20, 2017

It is clear that the provincial government of Ilocos Norte violated the implementing rules and regulations of RA 7171 when it purchased vehicles using the excise taxes from tobacco. Instead of rectifying this injustice, the provincial government is prioritizing the demand for the release from detention of those complicit with Governor Imee Marcos in the inappropriate, illegal and anomalous use of the excise taxes.

We urge the provincial officials currently held in contempt by the House of Representatives to divulge the full extent of the misuse and abuse of the excise tax funds instead of withholding crucial information and acting as scapegoats for Governor Marcos. Shedding light on the transactions are their moral and official obligations to the farmers and the people of Ilocos Norte as a whole. Failure to abide by these responsibilities constitutes betrayal of public trust and in this case, plunder.

This issue should not be viewed as an offshoot of politics because the utilization of the RA 7171 funds are evidently irregular and illegal. Clearly, corrupt officials pocket large sums of people’s money denying farmers of their right to the excise taxes. To claim that this problem is a mere political stunt is a big insult and injustice to the tobacco farmers of Ilocos Norte.

Tobacco farmers of Ilocos Norte have always hoped that they benefit from the funds from RA 7171 but officials allot the bulk of these for their own whims. The minicabs, mini trucks and buses procured by the provincial government never uplifted the well-being of the tobacco farmers. The production subsidy and other funds allotted for tobacco farmers to cushion them when prices of tobacco leaves are down and when there are disasters have always been insignificant.

However, the issue of misuse and corruption of the RA 7171 funds is not limited to Ilocos Norte. Since its implementation in 1992, politicians in Ilocos region and other Virginia tobacco-producing provinces mainly utilized the funds for the furtherance of their political ambitions, leaving only crumbs for the farmers.

The appropriate use of the funds from RA 7171 is what the tobacco farmers are demanding. This is part of the justice that the farmers want to attain. Complimentary to this, the corrupt officials should face the bar of justice. The current government can start providing the long-awaited justice by prosecuting and putting the corrupt officials of Ilocos Norte behind bars. #


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