The P41-billion combined feeding program budget of the Department of Education (DepED) and other government agencies should be spent buying Filipino farmers’ production as mandated in the Sagip Saka Act.

During a virtual forum hosted by the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), Senator Francis Pangilinan said that under the 2021 budget, the combined budget of DepEd, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Health (DOH) for feeding or food related programs stood at around P41 billion, not yet including that of the local government units (LGUs).

“That is many times bigger than the previous budget of NFA [National Food Authority] for buying farmers’ unmilled rice at P6 billion,” Pangilinan said.

“This should be spent directly for buying production of farmers and fishermen so that we will also get the best quality of farmers’ production,” he added.

Senator Kiko Pangilinan

For DSWD alone, the agency’s budget for hot meals is at P4.6 billion annually.

Diverting the funds, according to Pangilinan, will shorten the supply chain, eliminating the middlemen’s cut while increasing farmers’ income.

Pangilinan said this should not require a lengthy bureaucratic process because this will be considered a compliance of the Sagip Saka act.

“Sagip Saka provides that. There is no longer a need for public bidding. Negotiated contracts and purchases will be the scheme for LGUs and national government agencies (NGAs),” Pangilinan said.

During the same forum, PCAFI and its members presented their recommendation for Pangilinan as one of the vice presidential candidates in the country, including a higher or a balanced budget for the agriculture sector based on the sector’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic production (GDP).

Right now, the agriculture sector accounts for 10 percent of GDP, but it only receives 1.5 percent of the annual national budget.

Source: Manila Bulletin (