The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women decried the 2022 National Expenditure Program’s deprioritization of national agriculture and food production. The organization said that the proposed allocation of funds for agriculture, agrarian reform, and food production was severely insufficient, especially in the face of worsening hunger due to the pandemic.

According to the President’s Budget Message a total of P152.1 billion has been allocated for ‘food production programs’ in 2022, equivalent to 3% of the total P5.024 trillion proposal. This includes the Department of Agriculture, which will receive P72 billion, or 1.43%.

Meanwhile, the budget allotted for the NTF-ELCAC reached P30.46 billion. The entirety of the Defense budget reached P224.3 billion, an increase from 2021’s P2016.7 billion.

“It is clear that addressing widespread hunger of Filipinos is low on the list of the government’s priorities. To them, providing long overdue food and aid can take a backseat to arming the mass murderers of the NTF-ELCAC and AFP,” Amihan National Chairperson Zenaida Soriano said.

A survey from the Social Weather Stations reported that an estimated 3.4 million families experienced hunger in the second quarter of 2021. At 13.6% it remains significantly higher than the 8.8% recorded pre-pandemic in December 2019. In 2021, the NTF-ELCAC received a budget of P16.4 billion. The proposed 2022 budget would increase their funding by 75% while also cutting the budget for UP Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the Philippine Genome Center.

In a video circulating rapidly on social media, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque berated a group of doctors while defending the Duterte administration’s decision to relax quarantine protocols in NCR despite rising COVID-19 cases, saying the government was thinking of ‘economic ramifications’ and ‘people who will go hungry.’ However, Amihan reiterated that the calls from various sectors and organizations for sufficient financial aid and social amelioration remain long unanswered.

“Government officials cannot claim to care about the people’s hunger when their actions and policies brazenly neglect food security,” Soriano added. “By prioritizing the budget of counterinsurgency programs, they show that they are more eager to fund the threatening and killing of Filipinos instead of feeding them.”

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