On 2018 nat’l budget
Alien to the landless, hungry condition of farmers, poor – Anakpawis solon
Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao claimed that the 2018 National Expenditure Program (NEP) or budget proposal submitted by the Department of Budget and Management is alien to the concrete realities hounding the poor and farmers in the countryside. He is referring to that any government policy or plans to resolve or address the perpetuating landlessness across the country. He also pointed out that the government’s plan to decouple the National Food Authority, particularly downgrading its mandate as for buffer stocking program could totally devastate the food security of the country.
“On the Philippine Development Plan, they stated on their legislative agenda for a genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform, the free distribution of land, and to add that the gov’t panel on the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines also agreed on it, but the figures on the budget books totally ignored this concern,” Casilao said during the budget hearing with the Dev’t Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).
Casilao also stressed that the budget is not rectifying what the past administration did to the NFA, where rice stock is unremitting falling to the hands of the commercial sector. On January 2011, NFA stores 1.7 million metric tons or 50% of the local stock, while commercial warehouses only 557,000 MT or 16%, but on January 2016, NFA stock fell to 906,000 MT or 28% while the commercial stock almost doubled to 965,000 MT or 30%.
“The PDP plans to decouple NFA, and the budget only treats it as a buffer, essentially giving the private sector all the control on a very significant food item in the country, it is detrimental to the food security,” Casilao said.
He added that the only item pertaining to agrarian reform is of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) at P10.2 billion but stressed that is only for the last-minute implementation of the expired Republic Act No. 6657 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). P3.8 billion is for Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD), and P100 million is programmed for land owners’ compensation.
“The DBCC is enthusiastic to already consider the projected earnings from their tax legislative proposals, but absent-minded on the fundamental demand of farmers for genuine agrarian reform or free distribution of land to farmers,” Casilao said.
Casilao and other lawmakers from the Makabayan Coalition filed House Bill No. 555 Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) that primarily pushes for free distribution of land to farmers and they are entirely in support of the draft Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) of the GRP – NDFP peace talks, proposing similar reform. ###