MORE Filipinos will go hungry if the proposed budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is cut further, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Sunday.
“Mas maraming magugutom kung babawasan pa ang perang ilalaan ng pamahalaan para sa sakahan, pagbababoy, pangingisda (More will go hungry if the money allotted by government to farming, hog-raising, fishery is reduced),” said the former food security secretary.
“Nakita na natin sa nakaraang isa’t kalahating taon ng pandemya na kailangan pang pag-ibayuhin ang ating seguridad sa pagkain para makakain lahat ng Pilipino (We’ve seen it in the last 1 and a half years of the pandemic that we need to shore up our food sufficiency level so that all Filipinos can eat),” he added.
News reports indicate that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) cut DA’s proposed P250 billion to P72 billion.
To ensure food for all Filipinos, Pangilinan also pushed for the full implementation of Republic Act No. 11321 or the Sagip Saka Act which he authored as a way forward in terms of broadening interventions from production to processing and marketing using the value chain system.
“As part of the new normal due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Sagip Saka Act institutionalizes a system of direct food purchase from farmers, fisherfolk, and other food growers that results in easier access to food at affordable prices,” Pangilinan said.
“Ensuring that our food producers and consumers are healthy — physically, culturally, and economically — ensures everyone’s health,” he added.
Pangilinan said boosting the agricultural sector will provide income opportunities for the people whose jobs have been decimated by the pandemic, at the same time bring ease to price hikes of food and other necessities.
To help families survive the ongoing ECQ, Pangilinan’s office, with the help of volunteers, distributed 36,000 kilos of rice to 8,300 families each receiving 5 kilos of rice.
The packs of rice were distributed in 17 areas including the National Capital Region, Bataan, Rizal, Pampanga, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, Lucena City, Iloilo, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Cebu City, Cagayan De Oro at Gingoog City.
“Kapit lang. Kaya natin ito basta tulong-tulong. Mag-iingat po tayo lagi at pangalagaan ang sarili at pamilya (Just hang in there. We will overcome this when we help each other. Stay safe and take care of yourself and your family),” Panglinan said.