The Solidarity of Peasants against Exploitation and the National Federation of Tobacco Farmers Association and Cooperatives conducted the #KampuhanIlocos (Ilocos campout) on September 24 in front of the Ilocos Sur capitol in Vigan. They clamored for their rights and a just farmgate price for their products.

The action coincided with the Tobacco Tripartite Consultative Conference of the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) in Quezon City on September 25. The TTCC is conducted every two years to set tobacco farmgate prices. The NTA is conniving with tobacco companies to stop significant increases in the farmgate prices of tobacco products.

Based on the farmers’ research, tobacco prices should be set at P128/kilo, regardless of quality. At present, the average farmgate price of tobacco is only P80/kilo. Since 2003, the annual average of the increase in the farmgate price of the product has been pegged at only P3, while the cost of production has increased four times to P273,600.

Due to difficulties in production and severe bankruptcy, the number of tobacco farmers has dropped from 53,959 in 2013 to 40,892 in 2013. The total land area for tobacco production decreased by almost 30%.

Virginia tobacco is commonly used by companies Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc. and Fortune Tobacco in manufacturing cigarettes. These companies control 90%of the local cigarette market. In 2017, the two companies reported a combined net worth of not less P8.4 billion.