P70 billion for 4Ps should go to farms–Piñol

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol (PNA)

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) wants to convert the P70-billion Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) into a livelihood funding assistance instead of a cash dole-out to help improve the farm sector.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the 4Ps is a “questionable” social program as it “reduces” poor families to “a level of waiting for money from the government” instead of making them productive.

“I’m the most vocal critic of this program of the government. [It] is spending P70 billion annually [for 4Ps], which is bigger than the budget of the DA,” Pinol told the Agriculture Trade and Investment Forum at a hotel on Thursday.

“In fact, what I am saying is the 4Ps could actually be another program that could contribute to agricultural productivity if used properly. Instead of giving in forms dole-out every month, why don’t we start a livelihood program using that money?” Pinol added.

Pinol said he has received reports that the 4Ps had resulted in the declining number of workers in the rural areas, particularly in the agriculture sector.

“People are not working anymore, and they are just waiting for their allowances,” he said in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the forum. “In fact, for years the 4Ps did not result in anything. Worse, the work force in the agriculture sector has been reduced because of it,” he added.

The DA chief has pitched his proposal many times in previous Cabinet meetings, and claimed “a lot” of Cabinet members back his idea, but did not disclose their names.

He plans to submit a memorandum to the President with his proposal, at the next Cabinet meeting in June.

“The gist of my proposal is that we should make use of the 4Ps fund for livelihood activities to increase greater food productivity,” he said.

He has in mind “food production like vegetable growing or backyard poultry growing.” However, the mechanisms and guidelines for the proposal shall be determined once it is approved.

Labor employment in the farm sector declined for the sixth straight year in 2017, sinking to a seven-year low of 10.257 million, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed. This was also the first time in 15 years that employment in agriculture fell below 11 million.

 

 

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Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas is a graduate of the UST Journalism School (Batch 2016). He currently covers agribusiness for the BusinessMirror. He joined the news outfit in August 2016.