The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today further questioned the Plant, Plant, Plant or ALPAS-COVID program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and said the agency will have a lot of explaining to do regarding the utilization of fund allotted for the program including the distribution of Social Amelioration Program for farmers and fishers. “Farmers are seeking for urgent production subsidy to aid them in cropping and food production. However, DA chose to channel the budget to projects that are vulnerable to corruption.”
“The projects listed by DA under ALPAS-COVID all have lumpsum budget without specific details on the actual implementation and target beneficiaries. We demand full transparency on the utilization of funds as well as the list of beneficiaries who have received cash aid, loans, and other assistance from DA and its agencies. We find Secretary William Dar’s sweeping statements lacking and even DA’s bi-weekly pressers have fell short in answering many queries from farmers with regard to immediate aid distribution,” says KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.
KMP said the following projects have at least P1-billion budget allocation each but no details on how these will actually help farmers boost their productivity while coping with the pandemic – Integrated Livestock and Corn Resiliency Project (P1.75 billion); Expanded Small Ruminants and Poultry Project (P1 billion); Coconut-based Diversification Project (P1 billion); Fisheries Resiliency Project (P1.2 billion) and the Revitalized Gulayan Project (P1 billion). DA is even funding its communications and information endeavors with a whopping P200 million.
KMP also questioned the DA’s report to the President and Congress, particularly the SAP distribution and the Expanded Sure AID program (see tables below). Despite the accomplishment claim, many farmers are still seeking for assistance and even posting their concerns on Secretary Dar’s FB page.
Questionable cash distribution and loan grants
Based on President Duterte’s 8th report, DA has granted zero-interest loans to 4,751 marginalized farmers and fishers out of the 40,000 target beneficiaries but the utilized is already at 40% or P432-million out of the P1-billion budget. Likewise, no report was indicated on the distribution of the P5,000 cash aid under the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance program in several reports presented by Duterte.
“DA projects under the ALPAS-COVID are all recipes for corruption and plunder of public fund meant for farmers,” the KMP leader said.