Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Sunday, August 15 warned that more Filipinos would go hungry if the proposed budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) is further slashed.
Pangilinan is reacting to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reported plan to cut DA’s proposed P250-billion to P72-billion in the 2022 national expenditure program (NEP).
“More will go hungry if the money allotted by government to farming, hog-raising, fishery is reduced,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
“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.
Pangilinan said to ensure there is food for all Filipino, the government should fully implement Republic Act No. 11321 or the Sagip Saka Act as a means to broaden interventions from production to processing and marketing using the value chain system.
As part of the new normal due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the senator said the 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.
“Ensuring that our food producers and consumers are healthy — physically, culturally, and economically — ensures everyone’s health,” the lawmaker stressed.
He also said boosting the country’s agricultural sector will provide income opportunities for the people whose jobs have been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, Pangilinan said it would also bring ease to price hikes of food and other necessities.
Last week, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the DA will continue to drum up support from the various stakeholders so that the agency’s budget can still be increased in the upcoming budget deliberations in Congress.
Dar explained they need a bigger budget in order to significantly increase support to the livestock industry which was hit by two pandemics—the COVID-19 and the African swine fever or ASF.