Two campaign promises of President Rodrigo Duterte that would benefit farmers may remain just promises because no less than the President’s Finance secretary expressed doubt on their viability.
At the Commission on Appointments (CA) public hearing on Thursday, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said giving farmers free water could lead to wastage of the precious resource.
Duterte, during his barnstorming in the May 2016 polls, promised farmers that he would make irrigation free if he was elected President.
“I told [the President]that while it is a popular idea to eliminate irrigation fees, I think this is not such a good idea because people who get things for free tend to waste them,” Dominguez said in his reply to queries of Sen. Francis Pangilinan during the hearing.
Pangilinan, chairman of the CA finance committee, wanted to know the position of Dominguez on several proposals concerning the agricultural sector in order for Congress to be able to come up with a priority legislation list.
“If the water is free, people will not conserve it. It’s just the human nature that I observed. I think the irrigation fees should be paid to the irrigation cooperatives for continuous maintenance of the irrigation canals,”
according to Dominguez, the Agriculture secretary during the administration of President Corazon Aquino.
The Finance chief said he and the President agreed that a law needs to be enacted first before billions in coconut levy funds can be distributed to coconut farmers.