Press Release
March 11, 2010

Make public aid to farmers - Villar

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar expressed serious alarm over the reported P8 billion farm damage caused by the El Niño phenomenon, calling on the government to publicize its immediate aid to farmers.

Villar issued the statement as the Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed the drought's farm damage at P8 billion as of March 2. The loss is expected to rise as the DA continues to receive reports of more damage from affected provinces.

"The situation is seriously alarming. Summer has just set in and we're in to experience long, dry months. And yet the amount of reported losses is already staggering. The government must act swiftly to mitigate the impact of El Niño and help our farmers cope with the situation," Villar said.

"I urge that the government to publish budget releases and schedule of spending related to addressing El Niño. It should specify the amount, the implementing agency, and the purpose of the allocation. It should contain the project location and target beneficiaries," he added.

"What worries me is the possibility of using this crisis as a convenient excuse to raise funds for political ends. Publication of physical targets for infrastructure projects (and quantity for goods) would inform the public if the government is indeed spending to mitigate the drought and aid the victims as it promised to. By this, the public is ensured that the money is spent by the right agency at the right time, for the right project and target recipients," said Villar.

"If they can bombard the major dailies with supposed government achievements, I don't see any problem why they can't now. The publication should serve as public receipt of expenses and a guide that will inform people what to expect. It is an antidote to any plan to use El Niño funds for political ends," he added.

The damage to rice and corn accounted for about P4 billion, with more than 200,000 metric tons of paddy rice already been destroyed. These figures are lower compared to earlier report prepared by the DA Central Action Center. According to said report, crop damage is already at P11.2 billion, with the damage in paddy-rice production nearing 300,000 metric tons.

For his part, Villar vowed to prioritize agriculture and spend for it. He said his government will increase agricultural production and productivity through small community-based irrigation systems, increased R&D expenditure, reduce post harvest losses, and increase income of agricultural producers.

News Latest News Feed