Press Release
February 21, 2010

Time for current and next administration to act vs El Niño - Loren

"Slowly but surely the destruction of El Nino has been spreading throughout the land," Nacionalista Party vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda noted on Sunday. "It's time for this administration to start setting up measures and for the nexT one to follow up in their implementation to combat drought, power shortage, and the food crisis brought about by climate change."

She was reacting to news that, according to Mayor Mariano Malones Jr. of Maasin in Iloilo, the power supply of the province is being threatened by the low water level of Tigom River and Daha Dam in that town.

Legarda, along with running mate Manny Villar, made an inspection tour of the agricultural situation in Iloilo, as well as CapiZ and Cebu, as part of their Visayas campaign last week.

In an interview with a reporter ot Saturday at the Mactan International Airport, the "green VP" stressed that she has been warning the government for years on the dire effects of climate change, particularly El Niño, such as the brownouts looming over Mindanao, and drought that has parching parts of Northern Luzon and the Visayas.

"Our farmers are crying out loud," she said. "What can be done immediately is pantawid gutom. Yung cash transfers pantawid-gutom. Kailangang magbigay ang NFA (National Food Administration) ng bigas, kailangang magbigay ng dole-outs ang pamahalaan."

But that's just a short-term, stop-gap solution to what she thinks is a problem with long-term effects.

What she wants is for key measures to be put in place to fight the impending drought, and the resulting lack of food supply - a total log ban and a reform of the irrigation system.

"The total log ban should have been in place a long time ago," she said. "And there IS a total log ban in all watersheds and protected areas but no effective implementation of the law. We are suffering from degradation of environment and total climate change."

Funding, of course, has always been a problem.

"My challenge to Malacañang is to produce money for the people who are hungry," she said. "They should produce money for the farmers because they can produce money for their politics."

She chided the Department of Budget and Management for being so slow in the release of funds for various rehabilitation projects.

"Congress has been allotting funds," she said. "To be fair to the DA (Department of Agriculture), I talked to them and they said the funds for Ondoy and Pepeng have not been released since October. The funds for those affected by Typhoon Frank have not even been completely released. It's been two years."

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