Aquino, Abad, Alcala dared to account for 4-year unreleased agri funds
The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the party-list group Anakpawis today urged the Aquino government to utilize the accumulated “P62.1 billion of unused, unobligated, and unreleased” appropriations of the Department of Agriculture for the immediate economic relief and subsidy to agricultural production for farmers in the provinces devastated by typhoon Lando.
The KMP and Anakpawis party-list issued the joint statement after reports quoting the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that Lando caused P9,428,796,667.93 in agriculture and infrastructure, making it the most destructive typhoon to hit the country so far this year. The NDRRMC said damage to agriculture and livestock came up to P8,242,946,236.93, while damage to infrastructure reached P1,185,850,431.
“Obviously, farmers and agriculture are the hardest hit by typhoon Lando. The Aquino government must immediately move for the recovery of agriculture by extending subsidy to production and giving immediate relief to farmers,” says former Anakpawis party-list Representative and KMP chair Rafael Mariano.
“We demand the Aquino government to immediately release more than P62 billion of DA funds directly to farmers devastated by Lando and not to local government officials,” says Mariano.
Mariano said that “out of the DA’s P230.5 billion cumulative appropriations from the years 2011 to 2014, a total of P44.9 billion were unused.”
He said that “the P44.9 billion was divided into two, P11.9 billion was unreleased and P33 billion was unobligated or was released but was reverted back to the national treasury and is now under the discretion of the President and the budget department.”
In addition, Mariano said, “as of July 31, 2015 the DA already have a total of P16.7 billion of unobligated funds and the P500 million quick response fund that is still untouched.”
Mariano also challenged Aquino, agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala, and budget secretary Florencio Abad to account for the “unused, unreleased, and unobligated funds” from 2011 to 2014.
“We highly suspect that there’s something sinister in the P44.9 billion unreleased funds in the DA,” Mariano said noting that “the accumulated P44.9 billion of unused funds for the DA were not included in Abad’s list of DAP (disbursement acceleration program) projects totalling to P144.3 billion.”
“It appears that as early as 2011, the Aquino-Abad-Alcala triumvirate were already amassing billions of pesos from agricultural funds not only for themselves but for the Liberal Party’s campaign kitty,” the KMP accused.
The KMP earlier said that farmers and fisherfolk in the provinces of Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Tarlac, Zambales, Abra and Catanduanes are severely affected by Lando which pummelled right before the October harvest season. Many towns in Nueva Ecija which is Central Luzon’s rice granary are still inundated in flood, some areas still isolated.
“To immediately help farmers, a moratorium on the payment of land rent and land amortization, and the waiving of irrigation service fees in typhoon-affected areas are just and necessary relief at this time of calamity,” says KMP Secretary General Antonio Flores.
“The National Food Authority should also be ready to buy farmers’ palay (unhusked rice) regardless of classification, wet or dry, for them to recover the cost of production. At the same time, we demand government to extend full subsidy for the next production season,” the peasant leader said.
“Harvest-ready crops have been damaged or totally destroyed by typhoon ‘Lando’ especially rice, corn, vegetables and fruit-bearing trees. Damages to backyard and commercial livestock, poultry, swine, and goat were also reported,” Flores said. #