Piñol protests 2018 DA budget cut; blames financial managers
Saying the last straw has been reached, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol raised hell over the budget cut that the Department of Agriculture will get in 2018 as well as the denial of his projects by financial managers.
“For the first time in my life, I will complain about what I may not have and this is not for me at all but the Filipino farmers and fishermen,” Piñol said on his Facebook post.
“I will no longer be silent. I will have to argue with the financial managers that if this country would like to achieve inclusive national growth, investments must be made in the agriculture and fisheries sectors,” he added.
Piñol said when the DA’s budget was trimmed by P4 billion this year, he even helped justify it by saying that fund utilization under the Aquino administration was low.
He said his three-year P50-billion Rice Productivity Enhancement Program or rice sufficiency project was thrashed by the financial managers.
He said his proposals for a five-year Farm to Market Road Program to be included in the China Loan Package and a National Agriculture Mechanization Program to be negotiated with Japan were also deleted without consulting him, and described as “too expensive.”
“I was hurt but true to my character, I just kept silent. But the last straw came last week…” he said.
Piñol said budget officials told him during the crafting of the DA’s 2018 budget that his department’s funding for 2018 would be cut further and that the programs they were proposing may not be financed.
“Now, I will raise hell. The time has come for the farmers and fishermen of this country to demand what is rightfully theirs – a fair share of the national budget for them to be able to wiggle out of poverty and produce food for this country,” he said.
Piñol said the P46-billion budget of the DA this year is a pittance compared to the P700 billion allotted to the education sector and P600 billion to the public works department.
“The P46 budget is even smaller than the budget for the 4Ps program which gives out financial subsidy to the poor families of this country in the amount of P54 billion for 2017,” he said.
He said he will ask for President Duterte’s help on Monday to convince the financial managers that payable financing to farmers and fishermen, not dole-outs to the poor, is the way to go if the national poverty level is to be reduced from 26 percent to 17 percent by the end of the President’s term.
He said he is willing to fight the financial managers who believe that investments in agriculture and fisheries are “expensive adventures and a waste of government money.”
“The national pie belongs to us all and it should be shared fairly. I will fight to get the fair and just share of the farmers and fishermen of that pie and I am ready to go the full 12 rounds,” he added.