SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said the veto of provisions in the 2022 budget related to agriculture represents the Duterte administration’s latest assault on the country’s farmers and fishers.
“Ang dapat bawasan ay yung mga klarong wala o maliit ang kontribusyon sa Covid recovery tulad ng confidential at intel budget. Kukunan mo pa ng budget ang para sa mga magsasaka at mangingisda? Dapat mas maraming pagkakataong makabangon ang sektor ng pagkain,” he said.
“Ang maiiwang pamana ng presidente ay kapabayaan sa kalagayan ng mga nagpapakain sa atin,” he added.
In his veto message, Duterte thumbed down the budget provision including farmers and fisherfolk organizations or associations on the authorized credit facilities that will manage the Agro-Industry Modernization Credit Financing Program under the Republic Act 8435 or Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization law.
The President said expanding such authority was not needed as there are already banks, cooperatives, and financial institutions to handle credit.
The provision on subsidy to farmers and fisherfolk through fuel discount was placed under conditional implementation, subject to the guidelines to be issued by the Department of Agriculture in coordination with the Department of Budget and Management for orderly implementation.
“Pinag-aralan nating mabuti sa Kongreso ang mga nasa probisyon sa budget line per line. At dinepensahan ito sa plenary bago pinasa. This means that every provision is what it thinks is best for all sectors in the country,” Pangilinan said.
“Halimbawa, ang probisyon para bigyang pagkakataon ang mga magsasaka na ma-involve sa pag-manage ng pautang ay magpapalawak sa kanilang kaalaman kung paano palaguin ang kanilang kita. Syempre may paghahanda para rito. Dapat pagkatiwalaan ng Presidente ang ating mga magsasaka,” he said.
The senator said Filipino farmers continue to bear the impact of unbridled importation of rice through the Rice Tariffication Law which is slowly decimating them.
When Covid-19 came, their movement was restrained making it hard for them to attend to their crops.
“Nearly six years into the administration’s term, there’s barely improvement in the lives of women and men who feed the nation. Agriculture and farmers are still afterthought, and every year’s budget did not make a difference for them,” Pangilinan rued.