By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter
THE PHILIPPINE government has allocated about P31 billion in the 2024 national budget to aid farmers in implementing projects to boost rice production, ahead of expected episodes of drought and dry spells from El Niño, a congressman said on Wednesday.
“We are confident that not only the agriculture department, but other agencies across all other concerned sectors would be fully prepared for this prolonged dry spell to ensure that our rice farmers get all the support they need to continue improving their productivity and incomes amid this challenge,” Party-List Rep. Brian Raymund S. Yamsuan said in a statement.
He added that the budget would include more than P15 billion in cash aid for small rice producers from tariff collections from rice imports last year.
Rice import tariffs collected that go over P10 billion go directly to farmers tilling two hectares of land and below in the form of cash grants.
Mr. Yamsuan noted that the Bureau of Customs (BoC) had already collected P25.55 billion in rice tariff imports.
Production of palay or unmilled rice is expected to come in at 7.32 million metric tons (MT) during the fourth quarter, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has projected palay production for the entirety of last year to be at 20 million MT.
Part-list Rep. Elizaldy S. Co earlier said lawmakers increased the allocation for irrigation projects under the National Irrigation Administration by at least P40 billion.
An additional P25 billion had also been granted to boost agriculture subsectors, with at least P10 billion to be used for free irrigation, seeds, fertilizer and other agricultural products for farmers.
Meanwhile, the government allotted about P7.5 billion to upgrade at least 22 airports this year, including the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and the Pag-asa Island New Manila International Airport, according to Makati City Rep. Luis Campos, Jr.
Mr. Campos said NAIA would receive the biggest funding for upgrades with P1.64 billion for a new communications, navigation, and surveillance-air traffic management system.
This year’s budget will also include P1.5 billion to upgrade and expand an airport in Thitu Island, which the Philippines calls Pag-Asa Island.
The Kalibo International Airport in Boracay will see P581 million in upgrades, while the Laoag International Airport will have P500 million.
The budget has P320 million earmarked for infrastructure upgrades for the Bukidnon Airport and P300 million for the Puerto Princesa Airport.
The New Manila International Airport is set to receive P200 million in new infrastructure spending,
“The spending is meant to sustain the modernization and expansion of the country’s aviation hubs in time for the projected full recovery of global air traffic in 2025,” Mr. Campos said.
“Of course, we are also counting on the spending to enhance the overall travel experience of passengers.”
The Philippines logged 5.45 million international arrivals in 2023, breaching the country’s 4.8 million target in arrivals for the year, the Department of Tourism reported on Tuesday.