Robredo’s legacy and the DA budgetBy Ernesto M. Ordoñez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The legacy of Secretary Jesse Robredo must live on in many aspects of governance. This is necessary if we are to achieve P-Noy’s goal of having a better life for all Filipinos, especially the underprivileged. We now show how this legacy can be pursued, even in such a specific instance as the DA budget formulation and implementation.
Last week, we stated that the best way to pay tribute to Robredo was to continue his legacy. We cited a proposed DA-DILG-LGU project that he supported but was not able to continue because of his untimely death. This is the convening of regional and provincial three-day workshops where the LGUs, the DILG and the DA would work together to formulate and commit to unified strategic agricultural development programs.
Robredo stressed the importance of having private sector participation and ownership of these programs through the provincial and municipal Agriculture and Fishery Councils (AFCs).
One day after this article’s publication, a DA official told us he wished to follow through on this project. In a follow-up meeting three days later, he promised immediate action on this matter.
Even in the DA budget, Robredo’s legacy can live on. After all, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Robredo are similar in many ways. They both fight corruption and have shown deep commitment to helping people.
We must point out there is a third “C” that is indispensable in good governance: competence. As Robredo’s many awards have shown, competence highlighted his governance. The insight he brought to achieve competence was the need for stakeholder participation to arrive at the best decisions, and their involvement in implementing these decisions. He therefore created mechanisms to achieve this, such as the Naga City People’s Council.
PPP in DA
Fortunately, the DA already has a Public Private Partnership (PPP) mechanism in the legally mandated AFCs. A key objective of the National Agriculture and Fishery Council (NAFC) is to help formulate and monitor the DA budget. Under the previous administration, NAFC meetings would rarely be called. We believe this was intentionally done to prevent private sector monitoring and consequently facilitate corruption.
When the current administration started, the Alyansa Agrikultura recommended a NAFC budget committee dedicated to DA budget formulation, monitoring and implementation. Private sector cluster coordinators who emerged from the February 2011 AF2025 Conference, convened by Alcala and Congressional Agriculture Committee co-chairs Sen. Francis Pangilinan and Rep. Mark Mendoza, participated actively in the 2012 budget deliberations.
Many of their recommendations were ignored for the 2012 budget, but they are now incorporated in the 2013 DA budget proposal. For example, two key areas proposed by the private sector were to increase credit for small farmers and fisherfolk through the Agriculture Credit and Policy Council (ACPC) and boost small fishery resources through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Below is a table that shows these changes from 2011 to 2013.
(In Billion) 20101 2012 Proposed 2013
DA 34.757 52.9 63.131
ACPC 0.024 0.26 1.028
BFAR 2.335 2.985 4.609
The critical area needed for improvement is to increase private sector participation in the monitoring and implementation of the DA budget. For example, the NAFC Budget Committee has not met since Aug. 24, 2011, or more than one year ago. Thus, the opportunity to monitor and improve the implementation of the DA budget was missed.
The desire to fight corruption and the commitment to help the agriculture sector was present. But the added competence that could have been harnessed by private sector participation during the budget implementation process could have significantly improved the use of the DA budget.
In 2006, the DA budget was only P15.7 billion. Next year, it will be P63.1 billion. It is therefore imperative that the private sector be harnessed fully in recommending the optimal composition and implementation of this budget under Alcala’s able leadership. If we follow Robredo’s legacy of competence achieved through private sector participation in all significant areas such as the DA budget, P-Noy’s goal of a better nation for all will soon be achieved.
(The author is chairman of Agriwatch. For inquiries, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telefax (02) 8522112.)
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