By Billy Begas
The House Committee on Appropriations on Wednesday deferred the termination of the budget deliberation of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
House Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin moved to defer the termination of the budget deliberation saying the agency’s budget does not directly address the real issues in the agricultural sector.
“If we look at the situation on the ground, yung talaga pong nangyayari bakit po ba sa ilang taon, sa dami ng plano, sa paulit-ulit nating naririnig na maganda ito, aangat ang buhay ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino bakit po ba hanggang ngayon we cannot compete? We hear food security, we hear nutrition security but why is it that our agricultural products are much much more expensive than our neighboring countries?” Garin asked.
In response, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the government is not spending as much as our neighboring countries.
“Ikumpara po natin sa ibang bansa… sa ASEAN nalang. Vietnam devotes 6.5% of its national budget for agri-fisheries, Indonesia 3.4%, Thailand 3.6%, Malaysia 2.3%, ano po ang meron sa Pilipinas 1.6%,” Dar said.
Dar continued: “We are saying underfunded, under invested po ang Philippine agriculture and that is why you have this situation today.”
Garin said DA’s budget should be sent back to the drawing table and discuss the projects that will have an impact on every Filipino family.
“It pains me to see that nothing will be happening to our country because we are discussing a measly budget I believe that its really time to put this back to the proponents of the budget and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and discuss the real agricultural project,” Garin said.
The lady solon said that deferring the termination of the deliberation would give time to discuss the projects that should be prioritized by the agency.
“Napakahirap po na nag-uusap tayo dito ng pondo ng agrikultura at irigasyon if it cannot make a difference. Will this entail sacrificing other projects and pushing through with these projects… para tumaas dito wala na muna yung iba kesa andyan andyadyan yung lahat pero maliliit naman at walang mangyayari,” she said.
Committee vice chairperson Luisa Lloren Cuaresma approved the motion of Garin after no one objected.