Lacson, Sotto take up cudgels for onion growers
MANILA, Philippines — The government can pluck itself out of the “importation mentality” by tapping funds commonly unused in the annual budget for programs meant to help farmers, presidential aspirant Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Tuesday.
Speaking with onion farmers’ representatives in Gapan City in Nueva Ecija, Lacson warned anew that the current thrust of the Department of Agriculture to push importation of various agricultural products would only “kill” local farmers.
“We have developed the so-called importation mentality and this does not apply only to onion growers, because instead of helping the farmers, [the government] will kill them with importation,” he said.
Lacson lamented how Congress has been allotting “huge” funds in the General Appropriations Act to help farmers but these funds were purportedly often left unspent.
“For agri-machineries alone, around P11 billion was proposed in the [National Expenditure Program], which was increased to P13 billion by Congress,” he said.
Another P5 billion was earmarked under the Rice Tariffication law, he said.
“Just imagine how much P18 billion can do to help the farmers,” he said.
Lacson urged the government to add more funds for research and development.
“We also need to support our homegrown talents, and sadly, this support is hampered by the huge disconnect between what is needed and the funding provided,” he said.
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