“The Duterte government’s proposed 2022 budget is meant for killing farmers, peasant women, and activists with bullets and the impoverished Filipinos with hunger. The people’s hard-earned taxes should be spent for food production and not for killing machines especially during the pandemic when millions of Filipinos are being pushed deeper into poverty and hunger,” Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women and Anakpawis Partylist secretary general and Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said in a statement.

Estavillo noted that if the P30.46 billion proposed budget for NTF ELCAC is spent to fully subsidize palay production, it could help 672,376 rice farmers owning a hectare of land each which could produce 2.76 million metric tons of palay or 1.79 million metric tons of rice. It could have fed the 4.2 million hungry Filipinos for more than three years.

“If allocated for palay procurement, the NTF ELCAC budget could buy 1.523 million metric tons at P20 per kilo which would ease the impact of the Rice Liberalization Law which resulted in the chronic bankruptcy of rice farmers,” Estavillo added.

“The Duterte government’s distorted priorities reflects an outright brutality and insensitivity over the worsening condition of the peasant families and marginalized sectors. Napakalaki ng budget pero ipinagkakait sa mamamayan. Laging baril at pandarahas ang sagot sa mamamayang ang panawagan lang naman ay ayuda, kabuhayan at pagkain,” Estavillo said.

The groups said that the notorious red-tagging of NTF ELCAC and other counter-insurgency programs of the Duterte government has resulted to the extrajudicial killings of more than 340 farmers including 45 peasant women, illegal arrest and detention of 65 peasant women and organizers and militarization of hundreds of peasant communities.

“Nakakagalit na noong nakaraang taon pa nananawagan ang mga magbubukid at mangingisda para sa production subsidy at ayuda dahil sa tindi ng epekto ng pandemya pero laging sinasabi ng gobyernong ito walang pera.Yun pala, bilyon-bilyong pondo ang hindi nagastos o nagastos nang may anomalya!” Estavillo exclaimed.

The groups estimated that the NTF ELCAC budget could provide P15,000 production subsidy to 2 million or P10,000 cash aid to 3 million farmers and fishers.

“Itong proposed 2022 budget ay isang resibo ng kriminal na kapabayaan, kapalpakan at karahasan ng gobyernong Duterte. Let us hold this government accountable and ensure that no Duterte will seat in power in the upcoming presidential elections,” Estavillo ended. ###

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