Farm rehab a ‘must’ in P4.5-T 2021 nat’l budget, says Sen. Recto

Published November 16, 2020, 2:25 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto emphasized today that the rehabilitation of farms damaged by a series of typhoons should be expressed explicitly in the proposed 2021 P4.5 trillion national budget.

Senate Ralph Recto
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

‘’Or hunger looms,’’ Recto warned.

‘’It is like buying a vaccine against hunger, which is more lethal than the virus. Farmers fed us during this pandemic. It is time to return the favor,’’ Recto said at the resumption of floor debate on the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

“Since the country sits atop the earthquake corridor and is the doormat to the typhoon alley, it is but inevitable that disasters become macroeconomic assumptions of the national budget,’’ Recto pointed out.

Recto said typhoons, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions do not only rearrange the lay of the land, they could also reconfigure budgetary priorities.

‘’So when a trio of typhoons blew houses away, it also knocked down a few of the scaffoldings upon which this budget is made,’’ he said.

‘’And when they flooded the country’s food basket, a great part of the budget became water-damaged too,’’ he said.

‘’(Typhoon) ‘’Ulysses’’ hit the country’s food basket – the fertile plains of Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon. Suntok sa sikmura. A powerful blow to the gut. Tinaob ng bagyo ang isang malaking kaldero ng bayan,’’ he stressed.

The regions are also major poultry and livestock producers. They combine into one contiguous agricultural powerhouse, a major contributor to the only sector which by posting growth over the past three quarters has proved itself to be pandemic-proof.

The six provinces – Isabela, Cagayan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and Pangasinan –  account for 38 percent of the country’s palay harvest, 37 percent of chicken production, and almost one-fifth of swine output.

‘’Urgently rehabilitating Ulysses-hit farmlands is a must if we want to eat tomorrow. Helping the farmers in these areas helps us more than it helps them. COVID kills by hunger. We should not allow typhoons to make a pandemic more brutal,’’ Recto said.

Recto stressed that a proposed budget should not ignore disasters.

‘’It cannot be immune to changes required to fix the destruction disasters have wrought,’’ he added.