Left gives Duterte rare praise on irrigation
DAVAO CITY—President Duterte got rare praise from one of his staunchest critics, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, for signing the free irrigation law, an original proposal of the leftist Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives.
“This is a major step in our campaign to better farmers’ lives,” Casilao said of the new law.
Credit should go to Mr. Duterte, the legislator said.
Sen. Ralph Recto, in a statement, said Mr. Duterte’s signing of the free irrigation law should “open the floodgates to an irrigation building spree.”
Recto said the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) could actually do this because of its increased budget this year.
In 2017, NIA’s budget was only about P38 billion, but this year, he said it was increased to P40.8 billion.
He said Mr. Duterte could make irrigation and other farm infrastructure part of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
“Out of 3 million hectares of irrigable land, only 1.7 million are irrigated, leaving a backlog of 1.3 million hectares,” he said.
“We can only coax 6 tons of rice out of a hectare of unirrigated land. With irrigation, production rises to 8.6 tons. So as water supply increases, food imports recede and hunger retreats,” Recto added. —ALLAN NAWAL
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