Lawmakers save P1.5-B Cordillera irrigation fund-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Monday, October 8, 2012
AROUND P1.553 billion in funds intended for rehabilitating and improving irrigation systems were secured by recent combined efforts of Cordillera legislators.
The funds for the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will be used for the repair and rehabilitation of irrigation systems damaged by typhoons “Juan”, “Pedring” and “Quiel,” as well as the construction of new systems to boost agricultural productivity in the Cordillera region.
Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat initiated efforts to keep the funds by coordinating with President Benigno Aquino III and the departments of Agriculture and Budget and Management.
In early 2011, several Mindanao representatives moved to realign the Cordillera budget under NIA to Mindanao, due to the damage caused by Typhoon “Sendong.”
However, efforts by Baguilat, with the support of other Cordillera lawmakers, blocked the realignment that would have deprived the region of the much-needed funds to irrigate farmlands and boost its agriculture sector that is expected to experience the onset of El Niño next year.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Cordillera representatives stressed the failure to rehabilitate the damaged irrigation systems will greatly reduce rice production and further exacerbate poverty in the region, particularly in the provinces of Kalinga, Ifugao and Mt. Province.
Also such a move would endanger the rice terraces in the region, of which those in Ifugao are inscribed in the Unesco World Heritage List.
Baguilat said it was fortunate the President and the other members of the Cabinet realized in time that the funds were badly needed by the region, which is comprised by some of the poorest provinces in the country, thus they acceded to the request of the representatives to keep the funds in Luzon.
“This victory goes to show that much can be done if we combine our energies and efforts toward something good, like channeling funds for the irrigation needs of the Cordillera,” Baguilat said.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 09, 2012.