Press Release
March 16, 2010


Senator Loren Legarda, Senate Agriculture and Food Committee chairperson yesterday said she will include in the National Agriculture and Fisheries Extension System Bill or R.A. 3100 the institutionalization of the barangay technicians as part of the extension system for agriculture.

Legarda has been working on the said bill in the Senate and the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries (COCAFM), a joint legislative body which she also chairs is conducting its review on the extension system to further improve the proposed measure.

The lady senator sees the barangays--now totaling 46,000--in the country as the most logical government arm that could do important climate change adaptation activities such as rainwater harvesting during the rainy season as well as sustained reforestation. She said since most barangay officials are also farmers they have a stake in ensuring that locally-managed irrigation systems are well maintained. Rainwater should be used for irrigation and other domestic uses because we worry about floods during the rainy season.

"Local chief executives should be creative and we, in the national government should think of effective governance systems in our climate change adaptation priority pro-active solutions. Let us think of the incentive that will be created by our interventions to make systems work. We are beholding and experiencing the challenges of climate change. Everything that we are considering now is, effectively, reactive solutions. We have laws with proactive provisions, like AFMA, but were not implemented faithfully. I guess we should accept that many Filipinos--including government officials--respond to crises as they come, reactively rather than proactively," Loren stated.

Loren said that the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) recently estimated 300,000 hectares of damaged agricultural land and crops worth PhP5.11 billion have been damaged by this summer's El Nino. "If we put this amount in proactive measures like locally-managed irrigation systems and agroforestry we will be better off because we will create employment and minimize losses. If we give honorarium of PhP5, 000 each to barangay technicians we will be spending only PhP230 million a year."

"We have to factor in climate change in our public investments because it is a global reality we have to confront," Loren, Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia and the Pacific and Senate Oversight Committee on Climate Change chairperson, stressed.

"And so I ask the Department of Agriculture to sit down, list down and count the costs of alternative systems of rainwater harvesting for the implementation of the local government units. And I am telling the Department now that it will be a devolved activity, part of extension, and not a central government activity. We should empower the LGUs and make the local government code work," Loren concluded.

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