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Senate probe into gov’t response to dry spell sought

January 25, 2010

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AND SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA HAS FILED A RESOLUTION FOR THE SENATE TO CONDUCT AN URGENT INQUIRY INTO GOVERNMENT POLICIES THAT WOULD COUNTER THE EL NIÑO PHENOMENON THIS YEAR AND ENSURE FOOD SECURITY.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has announced a six-month long dry spell that could last until May.
“It is incumbent upon Congress to institute policy solutions to enable the agriculture sector to adapt rapidly to the impact of climate change and to safeguard poverty reduction gains in the rural areas,” Legarda, running mate of Nacionalista Party standard bearer Sen. Manny Villar, said in a statement.
She has made the environment one of her top advocacies.
Her latest political advertisement on television features the senator, hair windblown, walking in a vast field as her fingers brush the tall, green grass.
In Resolution Number 1540, Legarda asked the Senate to direct the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, which she chairs, and the Committee on Climate Change to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the government’s policies and programs to address the effects of El Niño.
The purpose of the inquiry is to recommend policies and programs to institute “robust adaptation strategies to enhance food security and alleviate rural poverty,” Legarda said.
She underscored the need for these policies, pointing out how the drought could adversely affect a country like the Philippines “that is highly reliant on agriculture for livelihood and sustenance”.
Legarda said the El Niño phenomenon, which has periodically affected the country, has led to a “dramatic drop” in agricultural production.
Legarda’s statement pointed out that from 1990 to 2003, the damage due to El Niño-related drought was estimated to be more than $370 million, not to mention a decrease in fisheries yield.
It added that the provinces of Capiz, Aklan, and Guimaras have begun experiencing the drought after they have recorded below normal rainfall since August.
“The agricultural adaptation program must ensure more investments in agricultural research and infrastructure, improved water governance and land use policies, better forecasting tools and early warning systems and a strengthened extension system that will assist farmers to achieve economic diversification and access to credit to make significant improvements in our food security goals,” Legarda said.
Source: Inquirer.net