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Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol announced the good news for the farmers on Friday.
In his Facebook account, Sec. Piñol said the budget for free irrigation has finally approved by the Senate Finance Committee. It was such a great relief hearing it and another promised of President Rodrigo Duterte have been achieved.
It is said that P2.3-B was added to the budget of the agency for 2017.
Piñol said he did his best to attained this because he and Duterte knew how burden it is the irrigation fee for the farmers.
Piñol was grateful with the help of the members of Congress and the Senate, especially Sen. Loren Legarda that finally, another milestone has achieved.
Read Sec. Piñol full statement:
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.
#Changeishere! #PresRodyCares! #DuterteDelivers! #FreeIrrigationAtLast!
Source: Manny Piñol