Abono party-list Rep. Francisco Emmanuel Ortega 3rd called on government to give priority to the agriculture sector especially at this time when the country is facing the threat of an intense El Niño phenomenon.
Ortega also called for the judicious use of funds for the agriculture sector, which he said remains to be the biggest source of jobs.
He said Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, should actively participate in the deliberations of the 2016 budget for agriculture because he can help identify ways on how to utilize and allocate funds meant to boost the agricultural sector.
“Senator Chiz has always looked into the spending trends of agriculture agencies. He comes prepared. He knows his budget back and forth, inside and out, often more than the so-called budget and agri sector experts themselves,” Ortega said.
“We need Chiz in the budget talks. There’s a big, gaping hole when he’s not there,” he added.
Escudero tendered his irrevocable resignation as Finance Committee head in July following his pronouncements that he may run for vice president in 2016.
The senator earlier criticized the government for underspending in agriculture projects, warning that it threatens food security. He lamented that poverty incidence is high among farmers, agriculture workers and fisherfolk.
Ortega said Escudro’s familiarity with the intricacies of the General Appropriations Act will be a “big plus” if he does run for vice president.
“Chiz will be the only vice presidential candidate who has a firm grasp of the budget process, and that would make him an invaluable asset if he were to go to the Executive Department,” the Abono representative said.
Ortega said Escudero’s sensible approach to problems faced by farmers also shows “an understanding of what farmers and the agri sector needs.”
“Sen. Chiz’s call for government to intervene in lowering the prices of fertilizer to help farmers cope with the El Niño crisis is an excellent example of this.”
Escudero earlier urged the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) to discuss with manufacturers and distributors the possibility of cutting fertilizer prices.