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Alcala loses P21 B in 2015 budget

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala is losing nearly P21 billion in funds in the proposed P2.606-trillion 2015 national budget.

Funding for his department and what remain of its attached agencies will go down from P70.058 billion this year to P49.061 billion.

Alcala’s loss will be the gain of former Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who is now presidential assistant for food security and agricultural modernization with the rank of a Cabinet member.

After appointing Pangilinan, President Aquino transferred to him four big agencies under the Department of Agriculture.

These are the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA).

These four agencies will have a combined budget of P37.2 billion next year, up by more than P7 billion from this year’s P31.071 billion.

Some P4.250 billion will be allocated to NFA, P28.8 billion to NIA and P4.086 billion to PCA. FPA, the smallest of the four, will get P60.9 million.

Pangilinan, who is believed to be eyeing a senatorial comeback in 2016, will have billions in irrigation funds that he can farm out to provinces, towns and congressional districts.

Funding for irrigation projects constitutes the bulk of the appropriations Alcala will be losing to Pangilinan.

The government intends to irrigate more than 20,000 hectares of farmland in 2015, and restore irrigation canals in an additional 23,200 hectares of agricultural land.

The availability of irrigation allows a rice farmer to do at least two crops in one year, instead of just one.

Theoretically, it will enable him to earn at the minimum twice of what he would make if he just relied on rainwater.

Additionally, Pangilinan will have some provisions in the PCA budget for farm-to-market roads in coconut-producing areas.

However, his No. 1 problem in the coconut industry is how to fight cocolisap infestation.

During the appropriations committee hearing on his 2015 budget, Alcala was asked how he felt about Aquino’s appointment of Pangilinan as a sort of “big brother” to him.

“We can work together to improve agricultural productivity. Two heads are always better than one, as the saying goes. In farming, I say, two carabaos are better than one,” he said.

Pangilinan did not attend the hearing as his funding is under the Office of the President (OP), not Alcala.

The OP budget is up for scrutiny on Sept. 3.– With Marvin Sy

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY PROCESO ALCALA

ALCALA

BILLION

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

FERTILIZER AND PESTICIDE AUTHORITY

FRANCIS PANGILINAN

NATIONAL FOOD AUTHORITY

NATIONAL IRRIGATION ADMINISTRATION

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

PANGILINAN

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