Sen. Imee Marcos tried to sell her late father’s failed “Masagana 99” rice program during Senate hearing on Wednesday, only to be fact-checked by the agriculture secretary who cleaned up the mess, Carlos Dominguez III, now finance secretary.
During the committee of the whole hearing to discuss the government’s pandemic response, Marcos suggested enlarging state ownership in banks, saying Masagana 99 lending was a “very effective use of commercial banks, rural banks and even cooperative banks.”
Dominguez, who served as agriculture secretary from 1987 to 1989 after the EDSA People Power revolt that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, would have none of Imee’s assertions.
The Duterte finance chief cut off the Marcos daughter as she tried to move to another topic.
“I was the secretary of Agriculture who cleaned up the mess that was left by Masagana 99. There were about 800 rural banks that were bankrupted by that program and we had to rescue them,” Dominguez said.
Other senators in the virtual hearing, such as Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, could be seen smiling.
Masagana 99 encouraged farmers to plant a “miracle rice” variety to boost production, but the credit subsidies proved to be unsustainable and costly.
Imee Marcos tried to rescue her argument and said: “The success perhaps was not in banking but the success was in rice exportation.”
Dominguez however retorted that the Philippines did not at all export rice.
President Rodrigo Duterte had proposed the revival of Masagana 99 to achieve rice self-sufficiency but this was met with opposition given the Marcos program’s failure. (PressONE.ph)