Press Release
March 27, 2010


NP-NPC-LDP vice presidential bet Loren Legarda told the Department of Agriculture (DA) to consult the farmers and fisherfolk on what they need this El Nino season and not just give them anything that they do not really need or not their priority.

Reacting to the comments of farmers that the Department through the local government units is giving away hogs to those who do not really need them, Legarda, chair of Senate Agriculture and Food Committee, said that the Department should consult the farmers first because they might end up slaughtering the pigs when they are hungry or just selling them to buy what they really need. Worse, she said that these pigs are being distributed by some municipal agriculture offices (MAOs) to wrong beneficiaries or non-farmers.

Legarda said that many farmers she consulted were asking for irrigation systems they could manage like SWIPs or Small Water Impounding System (SWIPs) which are priority this El Nino. SWIP is an earthfill structure that collects and stores rainfall and runoff during rainy season for productive use during dry season.

"During the immediate post-Ondoy and Pepeng consultations I had with stakeholders, the scientists were telling us we should harvest rain and avoid floods by making rain harvesting facilities ready during the rainy season. I challenge the DA to make use of the country's agricultural engineers to help the local extension personnel in assisting the farmers on this. Incidentally, I am including a position of agricultural engineer in every MAO in the country in the National Agriculture and Fisheries Extension System Bill. The MAO is where they should be. They should not congregate in the central office because production should be in the field, not in the national government," Legarda said.

"Last year, during my consultations after Ondoy and Pepeng, I told the DA to save animals which were sick and housing for animals which were rain-sensitive like goats and chickens. I learned that the Calamity Fund out of the Unprogrammed Fund we approved in Congress has not been released up to now. I suppose many of these animals have died already," said Legarda, who is also the chairperson of the Senate Oversight Committee on Climate Change.

"I will be calling the DA and other departments for an accounting on how funds for climate change programs are being spent. There should be some sense of planning in how we disburse funds especially this elections season. We should not give away pigs like campaign calendars. We should not give the farmers stone when what they need is bread. Calamity fund for agriculture is supposed to be given away to farmers and fisherfolk for free. Let them decide what they want to buy, determine their own livelihood, fix their boats or animal housing. The government should not buy the goods for them. Just set up a good monitoring system on how they are using the money for a sustainable livelihood," said Legarda.

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