If Vice President Leni Robredo becomes the next Philippine president, she plans to allot at least P116 billion for agriculture on her first year, more than double than what President Rodrigo Duterte’s government gave the pandemic-hit sector in 2021.
Robredo said during the AGRI 2022 Online Forum on Monday, November 29, that increasing the funds for agriculture from 1.7% of the total national budget to 3.4% is not enough.
She said there should also be an equitable distribution of these funds within the sector itself.
“So ‘yung commitment ko, ‘yung first budget na gagawin, gagawin na siya at least P116 billion. Hindi lang ‘yung total budget, pero pati din ‘yung distribution noon… Tignan din natin kung makatarungan ba ‘yung distribution ng buong budget,” Robredo said.
(So my commitment is that in the first budget that I would be doing, we would make it at least P116 billion. We won’t just look at the total budget but we would also consider its distribution… We’re going to see if the distribution of the entire budget is fair.)
To illustrate this, the Vice President pointed out the inequitable distribution of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) budget for 2021 worth P68.6 billion. The agency initially proposed a P284.4 billion budget for this year, but was approved was less than half of this.
Robredo said a big chunk of the DA’s budget for its banner programs in 2021 or around P15.5 billion went to rice, then the fisheries sector was allotted P3 billion, then other programs for other crops and livestock received only around P1 billion each.
The presidential hopeful argued investments on the agriculture sector should focus more on the resilient subsectors that could rake in more income for the farmers and fisherfolk, who remain to be among the poorest Filipinos.
“Kasi ‘pagka sinabi nating makaturungan ba, nasaan ba ‘yung opportunities? Alin ba ‘yung most resilient na sub-sector ng agriculture? Kasi kung nasaan ‘yung opportunities, bigyan yan natin ng mas maraming, dapat bigyan natin ng mas maraming budget,” Robredo said.
(Because when you talk about fairness, where are the opportunities? Which ones are the resilient sub-sectors of agriculture? We should give more budget to to those with more opportunities.)
The Vice President then pointed out the need to fund more climate-friendly crops which farmers can harvest, depending on conditions in their provinces.
“Hindi natin na nabibigyan ng maraming focus ‘yung pag-budget sa mas climate-resilient na mga crops, as far as agriculture is concerned. Kasi lagi kasing tine-take into consideration natin on a per province basis, ano ba ‘yung climate conditions doon? Ano ba yung klaseng ng lupa doon? And dapat yung budget, tinitignan ‘yun,” Robredo said.
(We do not give much focus on budgeting the climate-resilient crops, as far as agriculture is concerned. One of the things we take into consideration is, what are the climate conditions per province? What kind of soil do they have? The budget should be looking into these things.)
The past weeks have seen Robredo laying down her comprehensive platform for the 2022 elections. She has been wooing various sectors as well, including farmers.
Apart from increased funding for DA, Robredo has pushed to prioritize infrastructure that would spur rural development for farmers and fisherfolk nationwide. – Rappler.com