DA says losses to crops reached over P4B

TACLOBAN CITY– Senator Imee Marcos said that she will call for an ‘urgent investigation’ as to what are the preparations of the government on the El Niño phenomenon, considering its adverse impacts, particularly on the agriculture.

The senator, who was in the city last Saturday to attend a gathering of the Commission on Higher Education of its ‘Tulong Dulong’ scholarship program, said that there is a need to address the concerns of those in the agriculture and fisherfolk sectors as they were hard-hit by the dry spell.

“We will convene on Monday, and I will request an urgent investigation into the government’s El Niño plans because the impact on us is too severe. It’s really serious,” Marcos said.

According to the senator, because of the dry spell, those in the agriculture and fisher sectors, are the most affected and thus need immediate assistance from the government.

“I think we have to hasten the giving of assistance to them. The Department of Agriculture is supposed to be giving P5,000 to the rice farmers. There is a subsidy for transport of P3,000 for our fisherfolks,” the presidential sister said.

According to her, the farmers and fishermen have been waiting for their stipend or financial assistance from the government due to the destruction of their crops in the aftermath of the El Niño phenomenon.

“I think a lot of rice farmers, for example, are still waiting for their stipends because so much of their crops have been destroyed. It’s really heartbreaking,” she said.

The DA has earlier reported that due to the prolonged dry spell, losses to the agriculture sector have already exceeded P4 billion, prompting several affected local government units to declare a state of calamity.

Asked if she finds the performance of Agriculture Sec. Francisco Laurel Jr. wanting amid this situation, Sen. Marcos replied in the negative.

“Well, he is very new (to the post),” she said.

Laurel was appointed as DA chief in November of last year, succeeding the President who held the same portfolio after he assumed the presidency.

Meantime, Sen. Marcos chided the government for resorting to importation every time there was a shortage on supplies.

“Parang nagin reaction na lang natin na kada problema natin, mag-import. Hindi naman bumababa ang presyo sa palengke. Sobrang mahal naman pagdating sa palengke.So there seems to be some disconnect in the supply chain,” she said.

The government, she said, must provide more assistance to local farmers, for example, and help them increase their yield and income. (JOEY A. GABIETA)