MADDELA, Quirino – Presidential aspirant Panfilo “Ping” Lacson revealed his plan for farmers during a sectoral meeting with barangay officials, farm leaders & agricultural workers and supporters here on Wednesday.
When asked how his administration would address the problems in agriculture, Lacson first cited his authorship of the National Irrigation Act during the dialogue with local farmers’ groups.
“It’s just a matter of applying the right technology that we can use it for irrigation,” Lacson said.
Considering the country is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, “we may as well resort to renewable power,” the three-term senator said.
“We can have a solar-powered irrigation system, but it utilizes just by a small percentage (of farmers in the country,” he said.
“Our country is the second-largest producer of biomass in the world, but the irony of it is the country is harnessing just 1.2 percent of its energy needs from it,” the presidential bet added.
He also said that coal used in most local power plants is so expensive “because it comes from Australia, our local coal does not have the proper BTU (British thermal unit), it won’t suffice.”
The local power sector should be relying on more than the current 21 percent of renewable power it uses. Apart from the 57 percent of its energy needs through coal-fired power plants, the country gets 19 percent from geothermal energy, Lacson added.
“We have many (energy sources) that we can harness. These creative ways are among efforts for the country to be able to address its agriculture problems,” he added.
Lacson also said half of the P10 billion allocated to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the Rice Tariffication Law enacted in 2019 is meant for agricultural machinery.
“With the input supply in agriculture such as the fertilizers and chemicals, seeds and planting materials, and machinery and equipment, the government should help the farmers,” he said.
Lacson vowed that once he succeeds in the May 9 national elections, local government units (LGU) would procure farm machinery and agricultural implements for Filipino farmers through the P5-billion from the RTL.
He said, that in the previous years, the Department of Agriculture has bought defective agricultural machines that had already broken down, where other equipment are not yet used, and up to this time investigations into it has turned up hollow.
The RTL created the RCEF, which allocates P10-billion annually for six years for support programs that aim to make Filipino rice farmers more competitive. The fund is sourced from tariffs collected from rice imports as the government lifted import quotas with an aim of controlling soaring rice prices.
Lacson said that along with his running mate, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, they vowed to polish its implementation and to evaluate import rations for rice, as it simply made Filipino farmers suffer.
“We should not be import-driven instead we can become more export-oriented,” the former national police chief disclosed.