MANILA - Sen. Cynthia Villar on Tuesday castigated the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) for allegedly allocating some P28 million for its "milk feeding program," saying the country's dairy industry is a "failure" because the agency has been spending on unnecessary items.
Villar's stream of reprimands started after PCC executive director Arnel del Barrio said that the agency will "participate actively" in the milk feeding programs spearheaded by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Some P28 million will be spent for Central Luzon alone for the project, del Barrio said.
"Hindi trabaho ng Carabao Center ang mag-feed ng milk. Ang trabaho mo, mag-produce ka ng mga carabao at gumawa ka ng mga processing center ng carabao para yan ang bibilhan ng DepEd at DSWD," Villar said during the Senate Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform's hybrid hearing.
(Milk feeding is not the job of the Carabao Center. Your job is to produce carabao and establish carabao processing centers where the DepEd and DSWD can buy from.)
The senator noted that she deliberately inserted a provision in the law to ensure that the milk being produced in small backyard farms would have a market by requiring government agencies to procure dairy products from the PCC.
"Pagsulat namin ng batas, hindi ikaw ang gagasta sa feeding. Bibili lang sa inyo," Villar told Del Barrio.
(When we crafted the law, it was not to make you spend for feeding. Others will instead buy from you.)
"Ikaw, kung ano-ano ang ginagawa mo. Kahit sabihin ko sa iyo ano dapat mo gawin, ayaw mo sumunod, kaya failure kayo eh," she said.
(You are into unnecessary activities. You'e not following what I've been telling you that you must do, that's why you are a failure.)
Del Barrio attempted to elaborate on his earlier remarks, but was only able to say, "Hindi po kami magfi-feeding" as he was cut by Villar. He also did not have an opportunity for it in the succeeding parts of the hearing.
(We are not feeding).)
So far, the Philippines only produces 0.6 percent of the country's total demand for dairy, while it imports the remaining 99.4 percent, according to official data cited in the hearing.
Of the 16,040 female carabaos in the country, 27 percent or 4,343 are producing milk, while 73 percent or 11,697 are placed in the "non-milking line," data from the PCC showed.
The PCC has completed 20 studies, is still in the process of conducting 38 researches, and is set to start 25 "new researches" to improve dairy production in the Philippines, Del Barrio said.
"Katakot-takot na researches na naman yan, wala na namang application," Villar noted.
(That would be a lot of research, but with no application.)
"Paano mo maa-apply yung research na yan kung hindi ka naman nagpro-produce ng carabao, at yung mga carabao, hindi naman nagpro-produce ng more milk?" she asked.
(How can you apply those research if you are not producing carabao, and your carabaos are not producing milk?)
"Bakit mo uubusin yung pera sa research na wala namang application?" she said.
(Why will you exhaust your funds for research when these do not lead to application?)
Villar also accused Del Barrio of realigning to other projects the P10 million she "gave" the PCC for the construction of a facility that would house processing equipment for carabao milk.
"Kung saan-saan mo dinadala pera mo, kaya walang nangyayari," Villar said.
(You are using the funds elsewhere that's why there are no achievements.)
"Hindi budget ang problema ninyo. 'Yung desire to help the people ang wala sa inyo. Wala 'yun," she said.
(There is no problem about your budget. It's the desire to help the people that's lacking in you. You don't have that.)
Sen. Francis Tolentino said the Senate may be forced to slash PCC's 2021 budget should the agency fail to explain its expenses during the upcoming budget deliberations.
"It appears there is a great disconnect on what their vision is supposed to be sa ginagawa nila," Tolentino said.
As he had no chance to adequately respond to the senators' statements, Del Barrio just told Villar that the PCC would work to "continue" the senator's dream of raising the dairy output of the country.
Earlier this year, Villar blamed the Philippine dairy industry for malnutrition in the country.
"Partly to blame kayo sa kabobohan ng mga bata. Ang mga bata, pinapa-inom ng milk para tumalino. Ang dairy program ay partly to blame. Kung walang available na murang gatas para sa mga bata, pa'no iinom ng gatas ang mga bata?" Villar told Agriculture officials in a Senate hearing in January.