In the span of 100 days, the Duterte administration has truly made change felt in many aspects of governance. Aside from the Executive Orders which have been immediately signed which greatly benefitted large parts of society, crime rates are starting to decrease as well. Despite the allegations of extrajudicial killings, the President remains unfazed and continues to prove himself as what PH needs.
Apparently, peace and order aren't the only ones improved but agriculture have been getting an increased attention from the administration. Manny Piñol, secretary of the Department of Agriculture, recently shared the budget for free irrigation has been approved. It can be recalled that this was one of Duterte's promises.
P2.3 Billion have been added to the agency's budget for 2017 and Piñol accounted this to President Duterte who made this possible. In a Facebook post, he said:
In the end, the wishes of President Rody Duterte to provide Filipino rice farmers with free irrigation have been realised.
During the Senate Finance Committee hearing on Monday, Oct. 10, of the budget of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), an additional P2.3-B was added to the budget of the agency.
It did not come easy, though.
The NIA leadership itself was averse to the idea of free irrigation with its current administrator Florencio Padernal saying that there was no policy yet expressed by the President.
In fact, during the Congressional hearing on the budget of the Dept. of Agriculture and the four agriculture-related agencies under the Office of the President - NIA, NFA, PCA and FPA- I had to publicly rebuke Padernal and pointed out that the public pronouncements of President Duterte on free irrigation constituted a policy statement.
While NIA is not under the DA, I had to fight for free irrigation because it was a promise made by President Duterte during the campaign.
Even when he was Mayor of Davao City, President Duterte knew that the payment for irrigation services by the country's rice farmers was an added burden and that they could hardly pay for the irrigation service fees.
NIA records show that rice farmers owe the agency an estimated P13-B in unpaid irrigation fees.
With members of Congress and the Senate supportive of President Duterte's commitment of free irrigation, I emphasised during the Senate hearing of the DA budget that fulfilling the commitment of the President was important in convincing the Filipino farmers that this government delivers its promises.
It was during the DA Budget Senate hearing that Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Loren Legarda literally stomped her feet and declared that she would make sure that Free Irrigation would be given to the Filipino rice farmers starting 2017.
With the support of Finance Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Cynthia Villar, Agriculture Committee Chairman Francis Pangilinan, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Sen. JV Ejercito and Sen. Ralph Recto, the promise is now a reality.
President Duterte's promise of Free Irrigation starting 2017 is finally fulfilled.
Thanks to President Duterte and the members of Congress and the Senate, especially Sen. Loren Legarda.