“Pagkaisahin at Palakasin ang Hanay ng mga Magniniyog para sa Tuloy-tuloy na Kampanya at Adbokasiya tungo sa Maunlad na Pamayanan.”
This was the theme of the 4th General Assembly of Nagkakaisang Ugnayan ng mga Magsasaka sa Niyugan (NIUGAN) held at the Quezon National Agricultural School (QNAS) in Pagbilao, Quezon. NIUGAN is a national federation of small coconut farmers federations at the provincial level. The assembly was attended by five provincial organizations under NIUGAN, namely, Kalipunan ng mga Samahang Nagsusulong ng Likas-Kayang Pagsasaka (KASALIKAPA) of Marinduque; Mga Magsasaka at Manggagawa sa Niyugan ng Camarines Norte (MAGSACA); Kaboronyogan nin nga Magniniyog sa Camarines Sur (KAMARIN); Pinag-isang mga Organisadong Magniniyog sa Albay (PORMA); and NIUGAN Quezon. Each provincial federation sent three leader representatives.
Welcome greetings by Congressman Oscar Santos, more endearingly called “Ka Oca”, were combined with a challenge he posed to the NIUGAN leaders to intensify their campaign and advocacy on the recovery of the coconut levy funds.
During the two-day activity, the participants summed up NIUGAN’s accomplishments as a national federation of small coconut farmers. They also discussed the issues that the federation encountered in the implementation of coconut industry development projects and advocacy work.
As part of their duties, the NIUGAN leaders updated the assembly about their active participation in different government agencies engaged in coconut industry development: the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) where NIUGAN Chairperson Nonito “Ka Noni” Clemente sits as Director representing the federation; the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) where Director Rafael “Ka Raffy” Sarucam represents NIUGAN; and the National Anti-Poverty Council (NAPC) where Leopoldo “Ka Pol” Camacho, NIUGAN Secretary General, sits as a representative for the coconut farmers sector. Project opportunities were shared with the assembly.
A round of updates from the 5 member organizations was followed by the election of Rafael “Ka Raffy” Sarucam as NIUGAN President and Anselmo “Kap” Arandela as Vice President. The assembly appointed Ka Pol Camacho as Secretary, Don Paclibar as Treasurer, and Cipriano “Ka Cipring” Pizarra as Auditor.
The second day was intended for the Coconut Forum with none other than Senator Wigberto “Ka Bobby” Tañada as the main speaker. Ka Bobby was recently elected as Chairperson of the Boards of three oil mill corporations under the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) – CIIF. The Forum highlighted the concerns regarding the past CIIF-funded Coconut Farm Development Program (CFDP). Ka Bobby listened to the stories shared by the leaders from the five provinces regarding the implementation of the said program.
After the consultation, Ka Bobby administered the oath-taking of the newly elected NIUGAN officers. The activity ended with a short talk by PRRM Field Operations Manager Joseph Gloria and agreements on the schedule of the NIUGAN Executive Committee meeting.