PNFSP Calls for PDAF Abolition
Where there are an estimated 4.9 million families or 29.4 million individuals who are hungry, such callousness and unscrupulous deed is unforgivable. According to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), “7 of every 10 households do not meet their energy requirements for food and lacking in food energy needs, and that those who are in construction, agriculture, mining and self-employed labor are the ones who experience hunger and malnourishment the most”. The farmers were the supposed beneficiaries of the billions of PDAF funds from 2007-2009. However, the farmers have been repeatedly used and victimized since the 178 million fertilizer scam in 2004 which also occurred under the Arroyo administration. With no land tenurial security, rising cost of production, and almost nil government support, the farmers are already suffering and the hungriest. This is very ironic! How can food producers be trapped in a situation of extreme food insecurity and deprivation?
The P10 billion PDAF could have been put to good use in alleviating poverty and hunger. For instance, the 10 billion pesos could have procured 588,235 metric tons (MT) of palay from local farmers, which is equivalent to 382,352.75 MT of milled rice. Or the P10 Billion can also buy 400 million kilos of regular rice priced at P25. With well-milled rice’s average price of P39, at least poor families can buy rice at a subsidized price of P14/kilo. In this case, at an average annual rice consumption of 129 kilos of rice per person, 3.1 million Filipinos can be fed in a year. There should have been no reason for us to import rice, thereby filling our bodies with unsafe, chemically - laden imported rice.
Basing from government’s data on incidence of poverty based on food threshold, a family at poverty line can have a complete diet at P42 per day in urban areas and P30 in rural areas. Even using government’s food threshold budget of P42 per family, the P10 Billion can feed 771,604 families or 4.6 million individuals. For the farmers, the P10 Billion can purchase 40 million bags of organic fertilizer at P250/bag or can approximately finance a total of 400,000 farms at P25,000 per hectare in cost of production. Actually, the list goes on of what the P10B can do to solve food insufficiency.
Hence, if only government’s corruption be eradicated, and farmers have enough lands to till with security, and the agricultural sector would be substantially supported by the government, there will surely be food security and hunger will be a thing of the past.
Our right to food must be upheld. The government must abolish the entire system of discretionary spending and investigate all those involved in the P10 B scam. The government should prosecute all those found guilty of graft and corruption. Our vigilance is direly needed.