(File photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his Cabinet discussed on Thursday the proposals to ensure food security, boost the energy sector, and improve the national government’s housing program.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) presented their plans during the Cabinet meeting convened by Marcos at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Thursday morning, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said.

The suggestions are still being fine-tuned, Cruz-Angeles said, adding that more details would be made public “at the convenience of the departments involved.”

“Hindi pa po kami nagri-release ng mga detalye na ito sapagkat kanina po ay pagkakataon para i-discuss ‘yung mga proposals na ito. So, may mga revisions at saka refinements po (We cannot release the details because the proposals were discussed just this morning. So, there will be revisions and refinements),” she said.

Cruz-Angeles said the DA, currently headed by Marcos, presented initiatives to boost food production in the country.

The President, in his first State of the Nation Address delivered on July 25, vowed to modernize Philippine agriculture by relying on research and technology.

The DA is heading for an immediate tweaking of the value-chain system in the country to address pressing concerns, such as rising agricultural commodity and farm input prices.

Cruz-Angeles said Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, during the Cabinet meeting, discussed ways to have “adequate, accessible and affordable energy.”

On August 9, Lotilla said the country’s regulatory framework in the energy sector is being ironed out to provide clear policies for investors.

Cruz-Angeles, in a Facebook post, said the DOE is coordinating with its attached agencies to make the energy sector more attractive to investors.

“Gusto ni Pangulong Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. na makapaghikayat pa ng maraming investments ang sektor ng enerhiya. Bilang pagsunod dito, inihahanda na ng Department of Energy Philippines at mga mambabatas ang pagpapatupad ng mga polisiya upang maparami pa ang mga investor (President Bongbong Marcos Jr. wants more investments in the energy sector. In line with this, the Department of Energy Philippines and lawmakers are preparing for the implementation of policies to entice more investors),” she said.

Meanwhile, Cruz-Angeles said the proposed Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino program of the DHSUD was also tackled during the Cabinet meeting.

During a meeting with the Senate Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Resettlement on Wednesday, the DHSUD unveiled its plan to address the present housing backlog of more than six million units.

DHSUD Secretary Jose Rizalino Acuzar said the department’s priority programs aim to address the growing housing gap in the country and would benefit informal settler families and those living in danger zones.

To date, the DHSUD pegged the housing backlog at more than 6.5 million units.

Logistics issues in agri sector

Marcos, during the Cabinet meeting, stressed the need to solve the logistics problem in the agriculture sector to lower food prices in the country.

He issued the statement after the issues on the movement of agricultural products were raised, including complaints of forwarders and cargo handlers on policies imposed by local government units (LGUs), as well as the presence of many checkpoints.

“We cannot afford to do that anymore. The logistical challenge is clear, and we are not handling it,” Marcos, as quoted by the Presidential News Desk (PND), said.

During the meeting, Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said he would discuss with Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. and Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual the revival of express lanes for food trucks, a move which was first carried out during pandemic-induced lockdowns.

Abalos said express lanes would make the cargo movements “free-flowing.”

Another possible solution raised during the Cabinet meeting was the use of technology to determine areas with good harvest, allowing the government to bring their produce to areas with short food supply.

“For instance, agricultural products will be tracked along the way to identify bottlenecks and raise possible issues with the concerned LGU with the help of the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government),” the statement read. (PNA)