In the wake of typhoons and floods that devastated farm lands and the continuing threat of drought next year due to El Niño, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. urged the government to provide free irrigation service to revive the agriculture sector.
Marcos also reiterated that the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) should condone more than P12 billion in outstanding debts by irrigators and farmers’ associations in the country.
Marcos, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works, said he has raised this idea with NIA officials during one of the committee hearings on his bill intended to improve the country’s irrigation system.
“I told them, why are you charging fees for the use of the irrigation system? You should not do this because this is supposed to be a service that our government should provide to our farmers to help them,” Marcos said.
NIA officials insisted they needed the fund from irrigation fees for the construction of new irrigation systems and the rehabilitation of existing ones. They told the committee that the outstanding irrigation fee debt has amounted to about P12 billion.
The senator said NIA should find alternative ways to provide funding for the construction and improvement of the country’s irrigation system.