Fishers demand “full transparency” on DA’s loan program
Manila, Philippines — A group of fisherfolk is questioning the discrepancy of the loan grant of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for farmers and fisherfolks.
In the 8th Report to the House of Representatives, the DA under its Expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project reported that it has already granted 4,751 loan beneficiaries out of the 40,000 targeted beneficiaries. Despite having only served 11% of the target, P432 million out of its P1 billion budget was already reported as utilized.
The said loan program aims to provide zero-interest loans to marginalized farmers and fisherfolk in the amount of Php 25,000 each. However, if computed based on figures from the report, beneficiaries would have received more than P90,000 each.
In a statement, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) demanded transparency and explanation from agriculture Secretary William Dar.
“Secretary Dar has a lot of explaining things to do in regards to the questionable distribution of their loan program for the marginalized farmers and fishers. Despite the accomplishment reports, many of our farmers and fisherfolks are still seeking financial aid and support for production,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group reechoed the sentiment of the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) that the DA’s financial aid under its program “Plant, Plant, Plant” or “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Laban sa Covid-19” is a “platform for corruption.”
“The farmers and fishers who continue to endure the onslaught of the pandemic deserve explanation and full transparency from the DA. Hindi na nga dapat pautang, hindi pa naipapamahagi nang maayos,” ended Hicap. ###