THE “Food for Peace Program” between the governments of United States and the Philippines is said to be affecting the local economy in a bad way.

For this, a party-list lawmaker wanted an investigation to determine if the Filipino people really benefited from it.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

In an emailed statement, Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano alleged that the continuous availment of the United State Public Law (USPL 480) turned the Philippines into a dumping ground of US agricultural products’ surpluses, which ravaged the local produce and livelihood of the small farmers and local production.

The USPL 480 is the Agricultural Trade Development Assistance Act, signed into law on July 10, 1954 by then US President Dwight Eisenhower. This was renamed by then US president John F. Kennedy as "Food for Peace," in 1961.

"USPL 480 related transactions, such as the need, types, and volume of commodities to procure, the companies that participated in the bidding, the results of the bidding, the total amount of the funds generated from the sale of the commodities and the actual use of the proceeds must be disclosed with utmost transparency," Mariano said.

He said the USPL 480 Title I provides for government-to-government sale on credit of US commodities under long term, concessionaire arrangement. It was learned that the law was however amended later to include commodity sale to private entities. Payment of the commodities is expected over 30 years with a grace period of seven years.

According to Mariano, USPL 480 Title II involves donations to governments, through public or private agencies, to meet humanitarian food needs of recipient governments while Title III involves government-to-government grants aimed at supporting economic development needs of least developed countries.

Mariano said the Philippine government has been recipient of the USPL 480 Title I program. From 2004 to 2007, there has been $460 million US Aid to the country, not yet including some $20 million yearly in USPL 480 loans to purchase US food surpluses.

"This had largely contributed to the country's rising food import dependence and declining food security," Mariano said. "There is a need to scrutinize the effects of these transactions under the commodity loan to the local economy since the Philippines is not only burdened to pay these loans that resulted to the dwindling revenues and draining of the national treasury of the country vis-à-vis bourgeoning foreign debt."

In the USAid website, it said that for more than 50 years, "the Food for Peace program has brought hope and nourishment to the hungry corners of the world."

It said that about three billion people in 150 countries have benefited directly from the said program.

"The secret of Food for Peace's success lies in the unique combination of American compassion together with the unmatched efficiency of our nation's farmers. It is less a triumph of government than of working Americans, for in its essence, Food for Peace is the work of farmers, businessmen, grain elevator operators, truckers, bargemen, freight forwarders, port operations, private voluntary organizations, and government officials. Together they form an unbroken chain of humanity stretching from this country's fertile fields to hungry families half a world away. In the end, hope is what America has promised, and hope is what Food for Peace delivers around the world every day," the USAid stated.