Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr. has applauded the plans of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its secretary, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to modernize the sector and financially equip the farmers and fishermen to make them more competitive.
During the budget deliberation for the DA’s proposed budget of P163.7 billion for 2023, the lawmaker said he is optimistic about Marcos’ plans and expressed support for his decision to be at the helm of the agency.
“President [also] said that he will financially equip farmers and fishers and allow them to be more competitive and competent. Consistent with his pronouncements in the past, Madam Speaker, the President said that he would prioritize Philippine agriculture by pushing for the mechanization and modernization of the sector,” he stated.
“I do hope, Madam Speaker, Mr. Sponsor, with the President himself as the acting secretary of the Department of Agriculture we can make some breakthroughs in the coming days,” he said, addressing DA budget lead sponsor Isabela 1st district Rep. Antonio Albano.
He also took the chance to commend the agency for designing programs that would address issues in the agricultural sector.
“I actually commend the Department of Agriculture for coming up with programs and projects which will address the current crisis,” he said.
But during the budget deliberations, the Bicolano lawmaker also wanted to make sure that the DA’s proposed budget would not only benefit the farmers and fishermen in the National Capital Region (NCR), which is not an agricultural hub.
He also raised questions about the status of the Bayanihan 2 unobligated allotment funds because he wanted to ensure that the taxpayer’s money is being “spent wisely” and the funds are going to food producers.
Given the reported scarcity of many food commodities, Bordado inquired about the implementation of the Duterte administration’s “Plant, Plant, Plant” program, which aimed to increase the country’s crop yield.
Another issue that Bordado brought up was the disparities in the distribution of fertilizer reimbursements to farmer-beneficiaries, but Albano responded that this is already being investigated.
The lawmaker assured that his questioning was done only to make sure that the sector’s problems will be approached from a more holistic perspective, even citing some of the strategies and approaches of Marcos Sr.’s Masagana 99 program that could be used “to improve farmers’ social and economic conditions.”
However, he emphasized that changes are required in this regard.
“There were several factors which contributed to the decline of Masagana 99 and its eventual ‘death’, so I do hope that this will not be repeated in this Masagana 150 program, which should be using certified seeds and the Masagana 200 program, which will be using hybrid seeds.” Bordado said.
The lawmaker, however, criticized how a DA top official blamed farmers for the oversupply of some agricultural products, saying that the approach was uncalled for and solutions should have been presented instead.
In a radio interview last Sept. 7, Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said farmers do not consider the market for their crops.
Prior to becoming a politician, Bordado worked in the agriculture sector through the Agriculture Credit Policy Council known as the Technical Board for Agricultural Credit before. This had made farmers and fishermen welfare close to his heart.
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