Vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. today said the Department of Agriculture, particularly Sec. Proceso “Procy” Alcala, has a lot of explaining to do on how it is spending the budget of the agency.
He also expressed suspicion that the budget is just being used for politics rather than on programs that would help farmers cope with El Nino and increase their production.
Marcos aired his concern regarding the disbursement of the DA budget in the wake of the bloody dispersal by the police of the rally in Kidapawan City that left 3 farmers dead and many injured. He has filed a resolution that sought a Senate probe on the incident.
“Napakalaki ng budget ng DA sa 2016 pero ginagamit yata sa pampulitika, hindi ginagamit para sa suporta sa farmers. Kakulangan talaga ng DA ‘yan…kung saan-saan napupunta ang malaking pera na ina-appropriate para sa Department of Agriculture,” he said.
Records show that for the current year 2016, the total appropriation of the Department is P48.447 billion, more than P2 billion of which was earmarked for El Nino mitigations programs.
He said the farmers shouldn’t be blamed for protesting since they were hungry and fighting for the survival of their families.
“Seventy percent ng mga mahihirap ay nasa agrikultura…Hindi mo naman sila (farmers) masisisi eh kasi gutom sila. Hindi mo sila masisi na ipinaglalaban nila ‘yung kanilang pamilya, ‘yung mga pangangailangan nila,” he said.
He also expressed suspicion that the DA could be using its money for importation because of huge kickbacks and not for projects that will help farmers improve production like construction of more irrigation systems and opening up of more windows for soft loans with affordable and easy repayment terms, among others.
“Alam natin kung paano gawin ‘yan pero hindi pa natin magawa-gawa dahil masyadong naging madali ang pag-import at pinagkikitaan ng kung sino. Alam naman natin kung pinagkakakitaan ang pagi-import, eh walang gustong magpaganda ng sistema dito at tuluy-tuloy ang importation,” he said.
He said it’s a shame that the Philippines is now the biggest rice importer in the world, considering that there was a time when the country had exported the staple because of high agricultural yields.