Only 2 percent of farmers' medical aid given? Low disbursement irks senators | Inquirer News

Only 2 percent of farmers’ medical aid given? Low disbursement irks senators

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 12:27 PM November 21, 2023

MANILA,  Philippines — Senators scolded agriculture officials anew over the repeated low disbursement rates of their offices.

At the receiving of their ire were Philippine Center for Post-Harvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech) executive director Dionisio Alvindia and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) administrator Bernie Cruz.


Both were called to the Senate floor early Tuesday morning to directly answer questions from senators who were inquiring about their proposed budget for 2024.


“Our disbursement is quite low. Only 3.11 percent,” Alvindia admitted, responding to the queries of Senator Majority Leader Joel Villanueva.

Last year, he said, their disbursement rate was 45 percent.

By end of 2023, however, Alvindia promised they would use P7.4 billion or 94 percent of their budget.

In fact, he said, PhilMech had already made an advance procurement amounting to P3.4 billion for 2024.

Still, Villanueva was not happy with the explanation.

“Madali hong mag obligate (it is easy to obligate), but the main job of PhilMech is to ensure that you’d be able to distribute the machines, the equipment,” the senator said.


“So, meaning to say, in the past year, ang na-distribute (what was distributed), 3.11 percent,” he said.

“Kaya I’m just disgusted, Mr. President, coming from Central Luzon, as I mentioned earlier, largest production of palay in the country,” Villanueva stressed.

PhilMech officials were also castigated last year in Senate, also over the same unspent funds.

Meanwhile, Senator Mark Villar was surprised to learn that only more than P10 million of the P500 million budget for medical  assistance to coconut farmers was disbursed this year by PCA.

“P10 million? That’s 2 percent? Mas malaki pa yung disbursement ng PhilMech, 3 percent. Kayo 2 percent!” Villar said.

(P10 million? That’s 2 percent? The disbursement of PhilMech is even bigger at 3 percent. You’re at 2 percent!)

Cruz responded that more than P10 million disbursement rate was just for medical aid to coconut farmers.

He blamed the situation on the problem in implementation.

He said there exists a conflict between the existing law and the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan approved by the previous administration.

The PCA administrator explained they are ready to disburse the fund to Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

However, they were advised to just release the money directly to regional hospitals that are more accessible to coconut farmers.

“Ang problem po, yung sa COA (Commission on Audit),” Cruz pointed out.

(The problem is with COA.)

“Nagkaroon po ng meeting at na-flag down nila, so hindi po namin magalaw kahit gustong gusto namin,” he recalled.

(We had a meeting, and they flagged it down, so we can’t touch it even though we really wanted to.)

“Actually, pwede naming magalaw. 100 percent. Pero yun po ang naging problema namin,” he said.

(Actually, we could have disbursed the money. 100 percent. But we had that problem)

Villar urged PCA to immediately resolve this problem.

“I think, two percent of disbursement is unacceptable number, especially knowing that many of these farmers need this medical help,” the senator emphasized.

“Nakaka-shock naman! Two percent lang ang nagamit natin,” he blurted.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri shared the frustrations of his colleagues over the dismal performance of some of government agencies.

“I’ve been listening to the same budget problem — the under-utilization of their funds,” Zubiri observed.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

“For me, that’s a failure of governance if you don’t use that fund for the proper programs,” he said.

“Kawawa ang taumbayan,” the Senate leader expressed his frustration.

TAGS: Agriculture, budget, Farmers, PCA, PhilMech, Villanueva

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.