Press Release
April 13, 2016


With more farmers bound to lose their harvest due to the prevailing drought, the national government should step in with immediate calamity assistance and long-term intervention measures to prevent another Kidapawan incident, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said.

Escudero, independent vice presidential candidate, urged President Benigno Aquino III to devote the remaining months of his term to helping the agriculture sector get through one of the worst El Niño episodes the country has experienced.

"With less than three months to go, the President should at least end his presidency by showing that he had personally taken a hand in alleviating the plight of the poorest sector," Escudero said.

The senator had earlier chided the Department of Agriculture for its dismal effort at using its huge budget to help mitigate the effects of climate change, including extreme weather conditions.

Escudero called on Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to disclose to the public where the budget meant for mitigation measures against El Nino went.

"The public deserves more than a complete accounting of the entire DA funds. That's why we're now asking no less than President Aquino to take charge this time as the El Niño continues to kill farm lands," Escudero said.

The local governments of North Cotabato, Bohol and Cebu have declared a state of calamity as the El Niño dried up thousands of hectares of farm land in the provinces.

On April 1, three people died in Kidapawan during a violent protest of farmers seeking the distribution of 15,000 sacks of rice and other El Niño-related assistance from the provincial government's calamity fund.

"President Aquino should now step in with a clearer message as more and more provinces declare a state of calamity because of the debilitating effects of El Niño. People are going hungry, and there's no knowing what hunger will drive them to do," said Escudero.

"Do we have to wait for another Kidapawan before the national government gets its act together? Is the recent incident not enough for the Department of Agriculture to step up?" he said.

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