VICE-PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said the Secretaries of Interior and Local Government, Education, Agriculture, and Social Welfare and Development have agreed to use their budget for their food-related programs and buy directly from local farmers and fisherfolk.
To immediately ease the effects of oil price spikes and the consequent increases in farm and fishing inputs, Pangilinan said he has reached out to Secretaries Ed Año of DILG, Liling Briones of DepEd, Willie Dar of DA, and Rollie Bautista of DSWD and told them about his Batas Sagip Saka, which mandates national and local governments to buy bypass middlemen in the purchase of food for their feeding programs for schools, jails, hospitals, and the like.
“I texted them and they said yes [to the proposition],” said Pangilinan, who in his campaign sorties around the country brings with him copies of the law, the implementing rules and regulations, as well as the memorandum of the Government Procurement Policy Board doing away with rigid bidding processes for food purchases.
Annually, government appropriates billions of funds for the procurement of food and other related products in the implementation of feeding programs, subsidies, and other programs. In 2021 alone, at least P40 billion was available in the national budget as possible sources of fund for direct purchase from farmers and fisherfolk.
“Ang taas-taas na ng presyo ng petrolyo. Halos lahat ng kita napupunta na lang sa petrolyo. Wala nang kakainin ang mga nagpapakain sa atin,” he said in a statement.
Pangilinan said farmers also face higher cost of farm inputs including fuel and fertilizer.
“Kung tutuparin ang Batas Sagip Saka ng gobyerno at direkta silang bibili sa mga magsasaka at mangingisda, direkta na rin sa bulsa nila ang bilyon-bilyong pisong nakalaan para sa mga government feeding programs sa ospital, sa provincial jail, at kung ano-ano pa,” he said.
“May budget na binibili karaniwan sa trader. Bigas, karne, gulay, isda, prutas, lahat dapat bilhin sa mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” Pangilinan added.
The former food security secretary gives out these documents and explains to government officials he meets that the full implementation of his Batas Sagip Saka would provide farmers and fishers a steady market that would pay them a fair price for their harvest and catch.
He said this would encourage farmers and fishers to produce more, increasing the supply in the market, effectively lowering food prices and meeting his campaign promise for the entire country to be able to say “Hello pagkain, goodbye gutom.”
“Bumili na direkta sa magsasaka at mangingisda…Bumili na agad-agad ng pagkain sa kanila…We need to act quickly. Appropriate government intervention is necessary,” he said.