Our farmers get relief finally

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


AT the outset, allow me to express, on behalf of our province’s distressed rice farmers, our gratitude to Agriculture Sec. Manny Piñol for the promised delivery and distribution of bags of palay seedlings to help our farmers cope with their losses and still recoup some.

The decision to deliver the palay seedlings asap and to offer a three-year loan with zero interest is consistent with this administration’s pledge to help those who have much less in our society.

I just wondered why the Department of Agriculture of past administrations always left our farmers to their means to sustain themselves after reporting millions of damages to the country’s agri products during and after each calamity. They obviously found it convenient to hide behind media reports that the country suffered millions of damages in agriculture, about number of hectares affected or inundated but nothing about the plight of farmers.

Most that past administrations offered as form of intervention was to provide free access to irrigation, or to repair damaged dikes and irrigation facilities.

The irony of it all is that our government is well aware that our farmers borrow capital from loan sharks just to buy palay to plant, that our farmers can only pray that good weather throughout will allow them to earn some profit to sustain their families and still able pay the loan sharks. Malas na lang nila pag binagyo!

So when calamity hits, it is our farmers who are hit the hardest. So wonder no more why children of generation old farmers promise themselves they will never become farmers like their parents.

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CROP INSURANCE FOR FARMERS. For this reason, I’ve always advocated for local governments to adopt a policy to protect registered farmers in their respective jurisdictions in times of calamity.

If local governments can provide free PhilHealth health insurance, why can’t our local governments provide subsidized crop insurance from Philippine Crop Insurance Corp to our farmer-tenants?

Alas, I have not seen any move among our local governments towards this direction. Why this has not happened is still unknown to us.

I recall that then Cong. Gina de Venecia shared this advocacy. She filed the same bill every congressional period but her bill never saw the light of day. I hope Cong. Toff de V can pick it up from she left off.

At any rate, the intervention of DA today is just as good and timely. While it does not offer a full return on their labor, it nevertheless allows farmers to recoup some losses and still earn for themselves.

I pray that this DA initiative will be adopted as a regular policy not only of this administration but of future administrations.

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NOT HELPFUL TO ACCUSE. While it is true that our local governments had not done enough to protect our barangays from rampaging flood waters, it is also not fair to blame our incumbent officials fully for our misfortunes today.

Much of what we are made to suffer today are a result of negligence of the past.

The thing to do is to ask what we can expect in improvement should a similar natural disaster strike again.

To merely point accusing fingers is not helping the situation.

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SOLUTIONS NEED RESOLVE. Our province has been buffeted by super storms and typhoons in the past that always resulted in millions of damages, each one always worse than the last.

The source of flooding has not changed and yet we are still helpless each time. I blame our “que sera, sera” mindset that merely hopes our resilience as a people will always come to the fore.

The cycle has always been the same… rehabilitate and repair and little else and yet the factors remain the same knowing that floodwater is the result of excess rain water that rivers, dikes and drainage cannot hold.

Our experts are never short in knowledge particularly about science and logic. They know that to prevent floods, water must recede to the sea quickly. So we ask, why don’t they do that? We know they have identified the right solutions, but haven’t our situation changed for the better? They know the factors that impact on the problem, what else can’t they possibly know?

What our experts don’t know is how to get our government policymakers understand that the solutions demand huge commitment in the form of logistical support. In short, our policymakers are not providing enough funds to arrive at the solutions. And if there are, we allow contractors to shortchange us with shortcuts and substandard materials.

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CORRUPTION = NO ACCOUNTABILITY. The biggest and worst nightmare of policymakers when recommending huge budgets, is the fear of the level of corruption that will instantly take away the desired results. They realize that corruption at its worst level happens when accountability for results is not demanded. Even worse is when the desired or specified results are not easily visible and measure like dredging of rivers and governments don’t care to measure depths of dredged rivers.

If our elected officials can muster the political will that President Duterte constantly demonstrates and learn to demand exact accountability from government workers and contractors like he does, there is no reason for our legislators to hesitate to provide the right amount of funds starting with the dredging of rivers.

While our people may be used to seeing their homes and roads flooded, it should not be the case. Our people, the taxpayers, don’t deserve that at all. They deserve the best solutions. If they should continue to suffer from flooding, it should only be because our honest best was not good enough to match the fury of nature, not because of corruption.

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“RELENTLESS AND CHILLING” This corner applauds P/Sr. Superintendent Wilson Lopez, new OIC at the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office for his focused efforts to protect our families from the clutches of drug syndicates network of drug pushers in our communities.

From where I sit, I can see that he has imbibed the mission of PDU30 – to protect human lives and to remove from the streets those who dare harm family members.

The assignment, no doubt is tough because the drug menace is not simply about peddling an illegal substance but about stopping an activity which is deemed a livelihood to those who want to earn an easy fast buck.

I hope Mr. Lopez will be hard on the barangay kapitans who should be made accountable for a reported resurgence of drug trade in their jurisdiction, particularly in those that have declared their barangays as drug-cleared.

PDU30 has issued the order through his SONA…the war on drugs “will be relentless and chilling.” Let’s see it happen under the watch of Mr. Lopez.

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