The AGRI Party-list expressed support for the plan of Vice President Leni Robredo to double the budget for the agriculture sector to at least P116 billion should she win the presidency in 2022.
“Natutuwa kami na binibigyang halaga ni Vice President Robredo ang agrikultura at buo ang suporta namin sa kanyang panukala na doblehin ang budget para sa agrikultura sakali mang siya ay manalo sa darating na halalan,” AGRI Party-list first nominee and former judge Frank Lobrigo said.
The Vice President said she would continue President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, but would rather focus on investments that would make it much easier for farmers and fisherfolk to cultivate and sell their goods at a higher price.
Robredo made the commitment at the AGRI 2022 Online Forum after she was asked about her plans for the agricultural and fisheries sector. According to her, in 2021, the Department of Agriculture (DA) allocated P15.5 billion to the rice sector, P3 billion to the fisheries sector, and a measly P1 billion each for other banner programs of the department in the crop and livestock sector.
“Malaking bagay na may isang kandidato para sa pagkapangulo na willing bigyan ng priority ang agrikultura. And AGRI would be very happy and willing to provide inputs to Vice President Robredo should she ask for it, to maximize the utilization of the budget she plans to allocate for the agriculture sector,” Lobrigo said.
Lobrigo also agreed with Robredo’s earlier statement that infrastructure programs should focus on rural development so it would have a “direct impact” on helping uplift the lives of farmers and fisherfolk in rural areas.
“We have long been pushing for this. As we have been consistently saying, we need to invest in infrastructure that could help farmers and fisherfolk increase their yield and make their products more marketable,” the former judge stressed.
The Vice President said she would continue President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, but would rather focus on investments that would make it much easier for farmers and fisherfolk to cultivate and sell their goods at a higher price. These include building and setting up farm-to-market roads, cold storage facilities, solar dryers, and even “simple” projects like fish cages.
“AGRI would be very happy and willing to provide inputs to Vice President Robredo should she ask for it, to maximize the utilization of the budget she plans to allocate for the agriculture sector.”
Meanwhile, AGRI agreed with the proposal of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem to create a separate department for fisheries and aquatic resources.
Robredo runningmate Senator Francis Pangilinan had earlier said the Robredo administration would take the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) out of the Department of Agriculture and placed under the Office of the President with a Cabinet-level secretary in charge in preparation for its conversion into a separate department.
“But more than creating a separate department for fisheries and aquatic resources, we also need to ensure that there is representation from the fishing communities in this proposed department. Ang mga mangingisda natin ang may first-hand experience so they would be the best people to consult as to what improvements could be done for their sector,” Lobrigo said.
“Mahalaga rin na mayroon tayong experts in fisheries management including marine scientists so that we could make fishing sustainable and ensure that our fisherfolk would have ample catch year in and year out,” he added.