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EO sought to standardize provincial agri governance

Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - May 15, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc., (PCAFI) and the Coalition for Agricultural Modernization of the Philippines (CAMP) has asked President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an executive order (EO) institutionalizing a provincial-led agricultural governance especially as local government units (LGUs) will soon be awash with cash. 

Based on the new Mandanas-Garcia ruling, LGUs will have an additional P234.39 billion budget beginning in 2020.

According to Dr. Emil Q. Javier, CAMP chairman in a press briefing held recently, the EO must be issued, rather than just putting all responsibility for the farm sector’s administration to Department of Agriculture (DA) alone as what is the prevailing system.

Javier said that DA is on the right track in having set up a pilot program for this agriculture governance in the province. However, instead of just a DA administrative order (AO), an EO will be a stronger national policy that will accelerate use of funds for food security and agriculture. “It will compel LGUs to put a major focus on agriculture and food security.”

“The tactical program in agriculture should be coursed to provincial offices to encourage provincial government (to focus on agriculture.) We should organize extension officers in SUCs (state universities and colleges),” said Javier.

Likewise, PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said such EO should already be issued by Duterte considering that budget for 2022 is now being prepared.

The EO is just in the right timing for the national government’s implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling of the Supreme Court. The ruling ordered that LGUs should get a share of all national taxes, not only those collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, but all national tax collections.

With this ruling LGUs are seen to raise their budget by 26.61% equivalent to P234.39 billion.

PCAFI asserts that since the national government’s budget for DA will be reduced, it is just proper for LGUs to allocate 10 percent of their internal revenue allotment (IRA) for food security.

“It is the interest and responsibility of LGUs to invest in food security,” said Fausto

LGUs will have a total budget reaching to P1.083 trillion, given the new ruling’s implementation.

“To create fiscal space, it is expected that some of the projects of the national agencies will be un-funded. With the policy of the current administration giving low priority to agriculture, we can project that the unfair allocation of the national budget to DA will further aggravate,” said Fausto.

PCAFI has been asking for reform in budgeting for the agriculture sector. It has been pressing for an allocation of at least 10% budget for agriculture out of the country’s estimated gross domestic product (GDP) – since agriculture contributes 10 percent of GDP.

World Bank placed at US$ 367.36 billion (P17.82 trillion @48.50) the country’s GDP as of 2020.

The Philippine Statistics Authority placed total agricultural production for 2020 at P1.78 trillion representing roughly 10 percent of the GDP.

“Out of the total national budget of P4.506 trillion, the share of agriculture is a measly 1.5 percent or P66.4 billion, despite contributing 10 percent to total GDP, showing clear disparity in budget allocation and the lack of priority given by the administration to food production leading to food sufficiency and food security,” said Fausto.

As of March 2021, the agriculture sector employs 24.6 percent of Filipinos coming both from the labor force and not in the labor force equivalent to 18.5 million Filipinos, with those in the labor force representing 48.77 million workers and not in labor force of 26.26 million totaling 75 million Filipinos.

From the 2021 P66.4 Billion budget of the DA, livestock and poultry which contributes 28-31 percent of the total agriculture production, got P3.21 Billion or 3.68 percent of the total DA budget.

On the other hand, the rice program that contributes 22 percent to the agriculture production got a budget of P35.27 billion, representing 40.45 percent of the DA budget. If we are to include the budget for irrigation which is P31.0 billion, the rice program is getting P65 billion from the national budget since almost 100 percent of water irrigation goes to the rice program. In 2020, rice contributed P390.2 billion. 

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