'Conditional' business aid, bigger agri budget: Robredo outlines 'freedom from hunger' plan

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2021 02:14 PM

Vice President Leni Robredo starts her visit to Nueva Ecija province with a kumustahan with kalamansi farmers from Palay and the Kalamansi Farmers Agriculture Cooperative in Purok 6, Brgy. Bagong Sikat, Cabanatuan City on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. OVP Handout
Vice President Leni Robredo starts her visit to Nueva Ecija province with a kumustahan with kalamansi farmers from Palay and the Kalamansi Farmers Agriculture Cooperative in Purok 6, Brgy. Bagong Sikat, Cabanatuan City on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. OVP Handout

MANILA— Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday outlined her proposal on combatting hunger and rescuing the economy from the COVID-19 crisis. 

Robredo said "securing our freedom from hunger" is one of 3 fronts in her plan against COVID-19, which also included "securing our freedom from the threat of illness" and "securing our freedom from inadequacies in education."

"Industries are bleeding, and more and more people are being driven to poverty. To address this, we will keep our economy running," Robredo said in her opening keynote at an expo of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Robredo said her plan to secure freedom from hunger includes a proposed "conditional stimulus package for MSMEs, hinged on the condition that they do not lay off workers."

"We have to make sure that no more jobs are lost due to the pandemic," she said.

If elected president, Robredo said she would encourage outdoor economic activity to reduce the risk of infection in closed and crowded areas. 

"We will leverage what is already there— like outdoor parks, which we can use as markets," said Robredo, an economics degree holder from the University of the Philippines

"We will review current bike lanes, and we will build more around the country. We will raise the budget for this from P1.6 billion to around P14 billion," she added. 

Robredo also promised to "change government's mindset" by prioritizing strengthening local production instead of importation. 

"Despite lockdowns, despite production dipping across all sectors, agriculture actually grew last year. It has been resilient in the face of the pandemic; imagine how much more it can grow if we give it enough funding," said the Vice President. 

"But we do not have to just imagine: Under my administration, we will see it for ourselves. We will double funding for agriculture from 1.7 percent of the national budget today to 3.4 percent by 2028."

She said she would ensure this money "is well-spent and balanced across all agricultural sectors and stakeholders in the country."

Pressed for time during her speech, Robredo said the rest of her proposals are on her website

"This is our challenge today— to reach more, to do more, to help more, and to inspire more to do the same. Because I know that together, we can free Filipinos from hunger and get our economy back on track," Robredo said. 

"Together, we can build the society we aspire for: One where every Filipino who toils is assured of comfort; where someone will catch you and help you each time you fall; where we can ensure not just recovery but progress for all," she continued. 

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