THE next chief of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday said the incoming administration’s commitment to provide free irrigation to farmers is “non-negotiable,” and any official who does not share this commitment should resign from his or her post.
“Anybody in government who does not share President Duterte’s vision for the Filipino farmer is free to leave and find another job.”—Piñol
The statement, posted by incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol on his Facebook account, came after a National Irrigation Administration (NIA) official expressed concerns on the removal of irrigation service fees (ISFs) when asked by a local TV network.
ISFs collected by the NIA reach an average of P2 billion a year. They are used to fund the operation and maintenance costs of existing irrigation systems, as well as the NIA’s employee salaries and allowances.
“Anybody in government who does not share President Duterte’s vision for the Filipino farmer is free to leave and find another job,” Piñol said, when asked for his reaction.
He added that hearing the statement from the NIA questioning Duterte’s commitment is “not only irritating, but also a manifestation of the malady afflicting people in government—that is the failure to think outside the box to help people.”
“What got my goat last night was the fact that the issue of the presidential promise of free irrigation was already discussed during the transition meeting I had with the heads of the four agencies under the Office of the President on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization [OpafSAM], which was also attended by outgoing Presidential Adviser Edel Guiza,” Piñol further stated.
The incoming agri chief said he has already ordered NIA Administrator Florencio Padernal to come up with a strategy to ensure that the presidential commitment is delivered by 2017.
Piñol accused top officials of the NIA to have forgotten their mandate, which is to help the government produce food for the Filipino people by providing irrigation.
He cited a complaint he received last week from DA Regional Director Jun Alviar, who said NIA in Region 2, in spite of repeated requests from farmers, has failed to release water to the farms.
“In my exasperation, I told Alviar to relay to the NIA director my request for him to release the water as requested by the farmers or else my first official act as secretary of agriculture by July 1 will be to fire him,” Piñol said.
“I hope people in government now, especially those who will work with me in the agriculture department and its attached agencies, will understand this—we are here not to lord it over the people but to serve them.”
“If you find this hard to understand and difficult to implement, I will place a big garbage can in front of my office on July 1. You could throw in your resignation letters in that trash can and leave government,” Piñol said.
Yes. A farmer talking straight.this is what is needed. Order and discipline.
After giving free irrigation to farmers, Pinol should also consider reducing rice importation and increase buying price of palay.