INCOMING Senator Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero vowed to push for a significantly bigger budget for agriculture next year, and give the sector the second biggest allocation in the national annual funds.
Mr. Escudero expressed frustration over the small investment poured into the industry by the government, with higher priority placed on infrastructure development.
“We come out as a country of contractors because the funds for construction are bigger than for agriculture,” he said in a statement on Thursday. “But in the end, the Philippines is still an agricultural country.”
“It is stated in the Constitution that the education budget should be the highest, but the second should be agriculture because that is the livelihood of our poorest countrymen,” he said.
Under the 2022 budget, P788.5 billion was allotted for education, P786.6 billion for the Department of Public Works and Highways, and P268.4 billion for health. Agriculture, including irrigation, has a P102.5 billion allocation.
The Senate’s current finance committee chair, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara, who will retain his seat in the upper chamber for another three years, said the most important factor in fund allocation is right prioritization or selection of government programs.
“What is the correct spending that is best for the people and will not sacrifice education, health, financial assistance for the poor and necessary infrastructure,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino in a statement on Thursday.
“We will also study the freeze on government hiring — a moratorium on hiring new government employees,” he added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan