|The Scenic Tobacco Fields in Pidigan, Abra|
Abra is just one of several provinces that produce Virginia tobacco like Cagayan, Pangasinan, Isabela, La Union, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte.
At this junction, why I called it harsh?
Are the tobacco farmers to be blamed? Here, we enter to an open discussion and opinions are all correct. This industry provides food for the people of Abra. Actually, it could be an endless debate between health and livelihood and from these facts, the tobacco fields are the first hand source of cigarette products while the manufacturing companies add some addictive chemicals that are harsh to health.
Question, can the Philippine government provide another livelihood for the people of Abra and other tobacco-producing provinces when this industry come to an end as a result of anti-smoking campaigns? For sure there is a harsh effect to health and at the opposite side, there is a harsh effect for the livelihood of the people. Indeed a big debate.
The existence of the law called RA 7171 which pumped millions of pesos to tobacco-producing towns gave hope to the tobacco farmers of Northern Luzon especially for Abra where economic status is not as vibrant as the other tobacco-producing provinces. For sure, the million of pesos from the tobacco excise tax will benefit the people.
However, is the fund really benefiting the tobacco farmers of Abra or it just goes to the pockets of those who are in authority? Well I am not blaming or accusing anyone, I am just asking a question and I think the farmer themselves can answer this question.
I was able to talk with a tobacco farmer and according to him, his life from the time he started farming tobacco is still the same amidst the presence of RA 7171 that is bringing millions to Abra.
To balance the situation, leaders claim that the fund goes to infrastructure projects like farm to market roads. To end this post, it is a harsh reality that still many of the tobacco farmers of Abra are poor and I am hoping that through this industry, the quality living of the farmers will escalate for better.
Abra has a lot of potentials. Of course, we should not always rely our destiny to the government. But on the side of the farmers, I believe they need a tender loving care from the government.