P1.1-B fund for composting program still unused, says DA exec, shocking Villar and Marcos
MANILA, Philippines — The P1.1-billion fund for a composting program remains unused, a Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) official has revealed during a hearing by the Senate committee on agriculture, food, and agrarian reform on Wednesday.
As soon as Senator Cynthia Villar heard that the budget was not going well, she warned the BSWM official to resign if the farmers didn’t get the resources promised.
The BSWM is under the Department of Agriculture (DA) and is the agency responsible for advising and rendering assistance on matters relative to the utilization of soils and water as vital agricultural resources.
The composting program aims to boost farmers’ productivity through training and education and the distribution of composting facilities for biodegradable waste collection systems.
“As of today, wala pa tayong nadi-disburse (we have not disbursed) or obligate doon sa (obligated anything from the) P1 billion [for composting program],” BSWM officer-in-charge Director Junel Soriano said during the Senate committee on agriculture, food, and agrarian reform hearing.
Villar and Senator Imee Marcos were stunned to hear about the budget’s current state.
“Director, sorry nasho-shock lang kami kasi patapos na ‘yung taon at wala pa kayong nagagastos ni piso. Ba’t naman ganu’n? Ba’t ngayon lang bibili?” Marcos inquired.
(Director, sorry, we’re shocked because the year is almost over and not a peso was spent. Why is that? Why is it that you will buy just now?)
Villar, chair of the panel, lamented: “Kasi, Imee, may dati nang binibili ayaw nila ‘yun. Siguro hindi nila gusto ‘yung supplier kaya naghahanap sila ng bibili.”
(They were already buying from someone before, Imee. Maybe they just don’t want the supplier. Maybe they are looking for other suppliers.)
Soriano then assured the senators that the procurement process for 1,000 units of the composting facility is ongoing, which will then be handed out to the farmers.
Villar then dared Soriano to submit his resignation should the farmers fail to receive the composting facilities.
In response, Soriano said he would “do his best.”
“You can commit to me that you’re not able to this year, magre-resign ka (you will resign)? Kung talagang desidido ka (If you are determined), commit to me,” said Villar.
Soriano responded: “I’m not saying that po, madam, but rest assured that I’m committing that I will do all my best po.”
Villar rebutted: “But your best is not good enough.”
For Villar, the composting program forms “part of the solution” to the spiking cost of chemical fertilizer, which has increased three-fold from P1,000 to P3,000 per bag.
— with reports from Christian Paul Dela Cruz, INQUIRER.net intern
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