Press Release
February 21, 2010

Money, not special power, needed vs El Niño - Villar

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar yesterday said "money," not "emergency power for President Arroyo," is needed to deal with the crisis caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

Villar issued the comment to reporters in Cebu Saturday amid renewed calls to grant the President special power to deal with the crisis in energy, agricultural and water supply due to dry spell conditions.

"Ang El Nino ay predictable, [at] dapat matagal [nang] napaghahandaan ito...Hindi naman kailangan ng gobyerno ang emergency power para mabigyan ng atensyon o maharap ang suliranin sa El Niño. Ang kailangan dito ay pera at hindi emergency power," said Villar.

Villar said that the government has more than enough funds in the budget to implement mitigating measures to deal with El Niño.

The P1.54-trillion national budget for this year that Mrs. Arroyo signed early this month did not take into account the impact of El Niño.

But the camp of Villar said the government could tap the P12-billion fund set aside by Congress for the reconstruction of areas ravaged by three typhoons that slammed the country last year.

Damage to crops in 14 provinces in Luzon and Visayas due to the onslaught of El Niño had already reached P2.84 billion, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The 14 affected provinces are Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino in Northern Luzon; Bulacan and Nueva Ecija in Central Luzon; Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon in the Mimaropa area; Masbate in Bicol; and Antique, Guimaras and Negros Occidental in Western Visayas.

The government only activated El Niño task force this month. It also earmarked an initial P882.18 million for the accelerated implementation of mitigation measures for farmers and fisherfolk in 14 provinces in Luzon and the Visayas."

Villar had earlier said that the government should have developed contingency plans and long-term measures to address drought, especially if it will prevent the growth of industries.

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