The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) lambasted the proposed budget cuts on various programs under the Department of Agriculture, which is headed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
In its proposed 2023 budget, the agriculture department is set to slash about PhP211 million in “Irrigation Network Service” and about PhP1.2 billion on the “Provision of Agricultural Equipment and Facilities on the National Rice Program.”
There is also a PhP82 million cut on the “Extension Support, Education, and Training Services” budget for the National Livestock Program.
Rafael Mariano, former agrarian reform secretary and KMP leader, said the programs affected with the budget cut are “crucial” to the “recovery of the slumped rice and livestock sector.”
He also questioned the budget increase on the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) program, from PhP923 million to PhP1.1 billion, a locally-funded program that aims to help alleviate poverty among marginalized agriculture and fishing areas in 30 priority provinces.
Mariano said SAAD is a counterinsurgency program “under the guise of social and economic interventions.”
“We want to know, how in reality, SAAD aids in poverty alleviation of farmers and fishers when the most basic issues in rural communities are not being addressed,” said Mariano.
Coinciding with the agriculture budget deliberation in Congress, peasant women group Amihan demanded higher budgets for aid and subsidies for agriculture and fisheries production.
Zenaida Soriano, national chairperson of Amihan, urged the government to allot a PhP15,000 production subsidy for Filipino farmers.
She said the demand for subsidy is “legitimate and urgent” amid the worsening economic, agricultural, and food crisis.
Soriano said the government must provide aid “instead of offering farmers loans or credit programs” because “the sector is already engrossed in indebtedness and needed alleviation to continue production of food and other needs of the country’s population.”