BAGUIO CITY – The Diocese of Baguio supports the outcry of concerned agricultural industry stakeholders in denouncing any kind of vegetable smuggling that pose a serious threat and could eventually kill the lucrative agriculture industry of the cordillera.
In his pastoral message read in all parishes of the Catholic church in Baguio and Benguet, Bishop Victor Bendico pointed out that the unabated smuggling of vegetables greatly hurt the local farming industry.
With the recent celebration of the League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post, Bishop Bendico pointed out that people sounded the clarion call to maintain the vibrancy and sustenance of vegetable trading not only in the city but also in other strategic areas in the Cordillera.
“Our agricultural environment will always be at the losing end when smuggled vegetables sold at a cheaper price, flood the market. This causes a drastic reduction in the buying prices of locally produced ones. Smuggling devastates our socio-economic atmosphere greatly based on the vegetable industry,” Bishop Bendico stressed.
Further, he pointed out that smuggling divides the people, hence, the government must protect the farmers and promote the locally-grown vegetable products.
Earlier, concerned agriculture industry stakeholders lamented the alleged rampant smuggling of vegetables from China that posed a serious threat to the lucrative agriculture sector of the region over the past several months.
Moreover, vegetable farmers resorted to the dumping and donation of their agricultural produce following the significant drop in the buying prices of locally produced vegetables primarily triggered by the smuggled vegetables that have flooded the various markets nationwide.
While agriculture is the main source of livelihood in the Cordillera, Bendico claimed that people must be cautious that excessive use of agrochemicals is also a major contributor to environmental pollution and health problems.
According to him, improper use and disposal of pesticides and insecticides pollute the soil and water resources.
Moreover, he underscored that these pose health risks to farmers and their families and likewise to buyers and consumers of the farm products.
On the other hand, Bendico emphasized that the consumerist mentality, referring to the uncontested buying motivated by want instead of need, has affected the attitude of many of the people today. This also has an adverse effect on the human and natural environment since there are people who are really in need but could not have, and on the other hand, there are those who have but cannot give and rather prefer to give into their wants which in the end put their excesses to waste.
“Our excesses increase waste that makes the natural environment suffer also. The food waste attitude is an insult to the poor who do not have food on the table,” Bishop Bendico stated.
The Bishop recognized that Baguio city has been known for its chilly temperature, pine-dominated landscape and panoramic atmospheres but is now becoming highly urbanized and over developed with its condominiums, high rise hotels and commercial buildings.
“Baguio City will no longer be the City of Pines but will become a city of concrete. Urbanization and development when it becomes excessive has its collateral damage.
On urban decay, Bendico argued that environmental concerns like air pollution, shrinking forest areas and watersheds, traffic and congestions, biodiversity loss, and garbage problem are the evident end results.
He said that commercialization induce cutting of pine trees and re-landscaping of mountains for high-rise buildings and man-made eco-commercial parks causing destructive transformation of the natural into artificial towards a profit-oriented development to the detriment of the environment.
In Benguet, Bishop Bendico claimed that serious environment concerns are rising including water pollution in the rivers such as the Balili river of La Trinidad and its tributaries, waste management problems, degradation of air and water quality, deforestations of the declared natural watersheds and forest and mountain parks like Mount Pulag due to aggressive expansion of commercial farming and cash crop mentality need to be effectively and efficiently addressed.
The Bishop revealed that proper balance between economic and social development should be tempered by environmental justice protection.