Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) called out the “paltry” allocation for agriculture, agrarian reform, and food production under the proposed 2022 National Expenditure Program. “The total allocation for agriculture and food production under Duterte’s last year in office is grossly insufficient. The 2022 proposed budget is a recipe for a more widespread and deeper hunger, rural poverty, and malnutrition,” KMP Chairman Emeritus and Anakpawis Chairperson Rafael Mariano said.
According to the President’s Budget Message, there is a total of P152.1 billion allocated for “food production programs” in 2022. This amount is equivalent to 3 percent of the total P5.024 trillion proposal. In particular, the Department of Agriculture (DA) will receive P72 billion, or just 1.2 percent.
“That Duterte refuses to fund local food production is not surprising. This administration has consistently underfunded agriculture and other relevant departments and programs. This skewed fiscal policy contributes to why hunger, even before COVID, has aggravated under the current regime. Duterte will leave a legacy of worsening hunger,” the peasant leader declares.
Based on the Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2020 food security and nutrition global report, there were an estimated 14 million more hungry Filipinos in 2017-2019 compared to 2014-2016. Meanwhile, an SWS survey result released last July 2021 showed that the country’s average hunger for 2020 reached an all-time high of 21 percent.
“Allocating more than half of the public funds for debt payments and transport infrastructure must be some sort of economic sabotage by and for international financing institutions and foreign interests, and collaborating local corporations and politicians — all at the expense of the Filipino people,” Mariano added.
At least P1.3 trillion will be allocated for debt payments, while P1.2 trillion will go to infrastructure. Eclipsing any other sector such as education (P803 billion), health (P252.4 billion), and food, debt payment and infra comprise 59 percent of the total proposed budget.
For his part, KMP’s Danilo Ramos, noted that the majority of government debt is incurred for transport infrastructure in the form of roads and bridges, and not even for health or education through new public hospitals or schools. “Hindi naman nakakain ang semento at graba. Hanggang sa huli, gustong gutumin ng rehimeng Duterte ang mamamamayan. Talagang hindi ito katanggap-tanggap,” he lamented.
KMP and Anakpawis will continue to scrutinize Duterte’s proposed P5-trillion national budget. #