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Measly budget for coco farmers hit

The proposed 2017 P1.42 billion budget of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) mandated to help the 3.5 million coconut farmers is not enough to help the country’s poorest of the poor.

Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, vice chairperson of the Senate agriculture and food committee, said the cut in the proposed budget of the PCA from P4 billion in 2015 to P1.27 billion in 2016 to P1.42 billion this year would not be enough to help coconut farmers who are living below the poverty line.

Meeting the country’s economic manager during a briefing by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) on the proposed 2017 P3.35 trillion national budget, Villar asked aloud why government appears angry at coconut farmers when they cut the PCA’s budget as they are tagged as the poorest in the Philippines

“They earn only on the average, P50 a day, or P1,500 a month. We should do something. We should do programs in order to improve that or else we will not reduce poverty in our country. Why is this happening?,” Villar asked at the public hearing by the Senate finance committee chaired by Sen. Loren Legarda on the proposed national budget.

When Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno replied that the budget cut was due to underspending, Villar said it is not the fault of coconut farmers if people in the PCA underspent their budget.

“Change the people in PCA so that they can help the coconut farmers,” Villar stressed. (Mario Casayuran)

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