More jobs will be generated with govt focus on local agriculture,curbing smuggling: Pangilinan

More jobs will be generated with govt focus on local agriculture,
curbing smuggling: Pangilinan

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA – As the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reports an
increase in the number of unemployed Filipinos, Senator Francis “Kiko”
Pangilinan said more jobs will be generated if the government focused on
local agriculture, and not simply on importation.

“Kung mas malaki ang budget at suporta ng gobyerno sa agriculture,
imbes na sa pag-import lang ng pagkain, mas marami ang mag-i-invest at
magtra-trabaho sa agrikultura (If agriculture receives more government
budget and support, instead of only importing food, more will invest
and work in agriculture),” he said.

“Dapat ding sugpuin ang smuggling dahil pinapatay nito ang
kasalukuyang kabuhayan ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda
(Smuggling should also be checked because it kills the existing
livelihood of our farmers and fishers),” he added.

Pangilinan said urgent action is needed to assist farmers and fishers,
considered as the country’s food security front-liners. He rued that
the Bayanihan funds were slow to reach them if the funds reached them
at all.

In a report on the Department of Agriculture’s fund utilization in
2020, the Commission on Audit said that P9.8 billion of the agency’s
P59.81 billion in cash allocation was not used and reverted to the
Bureau of Treasury. Another P4.55 billion was not released by the
Department of Budget and Management.

“Kung pinagkait natin itong ayuda sa mga magsasaka, na isa sa
pinakamahirap ng sektor ng bansa, parang iniwan na rin natin sila sa
gitna ng krisis (Depriving our farmers, who are among our poorest
sectors, of this badly needed aid is like abandoning them in the
middle of a crisis),” Pangilinan said.

The former food security adviser said the rising unemployment rate in
the country badly hit workers in the agriculture sector.

The PSA on November 4 reported that the number of unemployed Filipinos
swelled to 4.3 million last September, translating to an 8.9 percent
unemployment rate.

Pangilinan lamented that the billions allotted to various agencies as
part of the Bayanihan 1 and 2 pandemic response appeared to have made
little impact on Filipino workers, who remained without a source of
income.

At least 862,000 job cuts were recorded in the agriculture sector,
partly due to bad weather and the end of the harvest season.

“Hindi tayo makakabangon kung iiwan natin ang kritikal na sektor na
ito (We cannot speak of economic recovery if a critical sector is left
behind),” Pangilinan said. (AI/MTVN)

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