FFCCCII: Marcos as head of DA is more advantageous for the agricultural sector

FFCCCII: Marcos as head of DA is more advantageous for the agricultural sector

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DESPITE some calls for President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to appoint a full-time agriculture secretary so he can focus on his position as chief executive, one business leader insists that having the president at the helm is an advantage gives him a better position to analyze the challenges in farming.

“With the President at the helm, I hope we can develop a good farming program,” said Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong, President of the Federation of the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCII), at a pandesal forum on Saturday assessing President Marcos’ recent state visit to China.

Lim said the government must attach importance to agriculture not only for food security but also for exports to boost the overall economy. “Our current agriculture budget is so small that we cannot develop a good program for agriculture,” Lim said.

According to the Ministry of Budget and Administration, “For fiscal year 2023, the Marcos government allocated a total of 184.1 billion pesos to the agricultural sector — a significant increase of 39.2 percent over the 2022 allocation — to improve food security and agricultural security to ensure productivity.”

Lim said the amount is not enough as the country needs to pursue multiple agricultural activities such as seed production.

Time to appoint DA boss

Meanwhile, Professor Anna Malindog-Uy, vice president for foreign affairs at the Asian Century Philippines Strategic Studies Institute, believes it’s high time for the president to appoint a full-time agriculture secretary so he can focus more on his work as chief executive can .

“President Marcos Jr.’s plate is pretty full right now as he tackles colossal issues like inflation, pandemic, drugs, transportation and others.

Despite its success, the recent state visit to Beijing needs to be followed up and efforts made to honor the accords to ensure the $22.8 billion in investment pledges go through. “We need China more than China needs us,” Malindog-Uy said.

Sixto Benedicto, President of the Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU), is optimistic that with Marcos’ visit, the diplomatic and bilateral relations between the Philippines and China will be fruitful, dynamic and bright under his leadership. “This visit is also significant because it will define the stance and trajectory of Philippines-China bilateral relations over the next five years under Marcos Jr.’s presidency,” he said.

“With this state visit, I believe that ties between the two countries, both state-to-state and people-to-people, will be further strengthened and deepened, and more economic and trade cooperation between the two countries will be established and pursued, leading to the will benefit peoples of the Philippines and China.”

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