The private sector has asked President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an executive order (EO) institutionalizing provincial-led agricultural governance, especially as local government units (LGs) will soon be awash with cash.
LGUs will have an additional P234.39 billion budget beginning in 2020 from the new Mandanas-Garcia ruling of the Supreme Court.
The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc (PCAFI) and the Coalition for Agricultural Modernization of the Philippines (CAMP) have expressed support for a national policy putting the burden of agricultural governance on LGUs.
The EO must be issued, rather than just putting all responsibility for the farm sector’s administration to the Department of Agriculture (DA) alone under the prevailing system, they said.
Dr. Emil Q. Javier, CAMP chairman, said in a press briefing that the DA is on the right track in setting up a pilot program for agriculture governance in the province.
However, instead of just a DA administrative order (AO), an EO will be a stronger national policy that will accelerate use of funds for food security and agriculture. It will compel LGUs to put a major focus on agriculture and food security, he said.
“The tactical program in agriculture should be coursed to provincial offices to encourage provincial government (to focus on agriculture). We should organize extension officers in SUCs (state universities and colleges),” said Javier.
“(DA) Secretary (William) Dar already adopted the proposal and has a pilot program for the provincial agriculture office. But there should be more agriculture offices in the provinces. It’s a good opportunity to call the attention of the president by way of issuing an EO,” he added.
PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto said the EO should already be issued by Duterte, considering the national budget for 2022 is now being prepared.
The EO is just in the right timing for the national government’s implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling of the Supreme Court.
The ruling orders that LGUs should get a share of all national taxes, not only those collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, but all national tax collections.
With this ruling, LGUs are seen to raise their budget by 26.61%, equivalent to P234.39 billion.
PCAFI asserted that since the national government’s budget for DA will be reduced, it is just proper for LGUs to allocate 10% of their internal revenue allotment (IRA) to food security.
“It is the interest and responsibility of LGUs to invest in food security,” said Fausto.
LGUs will have a total budget reaching to P1.083 trillion, given the new ruling’s implementation.
“To create fiscal space, it is expected that some of the projects of the national agencies will be un-funded. With the policy of the current administration giving low priority to agriculture, we can project that the unfair allocation of the national budget to DA will further aggravate,” said Fausto.
PCAFI has been asking for budgeting reform for the agriculture sector. It has been pressing for an allocation of at least 10% budget for agriculture out of the country’s estimated gross domestic product (GDP) – since agriculture contributes 10% to GDP.
The World Bank placed at US$367.36 Billion (₱17.82 trillion at a 48.50:1 rate) the country’s GDP as of 2020.
The Philippine Statistics Authority placed total agricultural production for 2020 at ₱1.78 trillion representing roughly 10 percent of the GDP.
“Out of the total national budget of ₱4.506 trillion, the share of agriculture is a measly 1.5 percent or ₱66.4 billion, despite contributing 10 percent to total GDP, showing clear disparity in budget allocation and the lack of priority given by the administration to food production leading to food sufficiency and food security,” said Fausto.
As of March 2021, the agriculture sector employs 24.6 percent of Filipinos coming both from the labor force and not in the labor force equivalent to 18.5 million Filipinos, with those in the labor force representing 48.77 million workers and not in the labor force of 26.26 million totaling 75 million Filipinos.
“But, according to a paper written by Dr. Ciel Habito, if one considers agro-processing and agricultural inputs, manufacturing and trading (i.e., agribusiness sectors) along with basic agricultural production, about 40 percent of GDP and two-thirds of jobs in the economy arise from agriculture,” said Fausto.
From the 2021 ₱66.4 billion budget of the DA, livestock, and poultry which contributes 28 to 31 percent of the total agriculture production, got ₱3.21 Billion or 3.68 percent of the total DA budget.
On the other hand, the rice program that contributes 22 percent to the agriculture production got a budget of ₱35.27 Billion, representing 40.45 percent of the DA budget.
“If we are to include the budget for irrigation which is ₱31.0 billion, the rice program is getting ₱65 billion from the national budget since almost 100 percent of water irrigation goes to the rice program. In 2020, rice contributed ₱390.2 billion,” Fausto said.