Woman legislator doubts Aquino promise to farmersBy Tonette Orejas
Inquirer Central Luzon
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines – The Aquino administration is “sure to fail” in its commitment to complete the agrarian reform program because it has not been allocating the necessary budget for it, the vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations said.
“I doubt it,” Pampanga Representative Anna York Bondoc told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone Sunday, referring to the promise President Aquino made to farmers who were demanding the completion of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extension and Reforms (CARPer) by 2014.
Bondoc said that while Congress approved a P150-billion budget for CARPer from 2009 to 2014, the Department of Budget and Management had “always set a budget ceiling very much below the law.”
Under Aquino, she said, the DAR budget fell to P16 billion in 2011 and rose slightly to P18 billion in 2012.
“In fact, at the start of the (Aquino) administration, the budget was even decreased from the previous years. The highest budget ever given to DAR was in 2010, when it was P20 billion,” Bondoc said in a statement, referring to the last year of the Arroyo administration.
When contacted, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said he had to check the accuracy of Bondoc’s figures.
“What goes to (agrarian reform beneficiaries) is not just what comes from DAR. A lot also comes from the (Departments of Agriculture, of Environment and Natural resources, and Trade and Industry). The DAR’s main funding is for land acquisition and distribution,” Abad told the Inquirer on Sunday.
“The main problem with land acquisition and distribution is not funding but the slow process of completing claim folders. That’s why (President Aquino) directed the formation of a multisectoral task force to monitor the process,” he said.