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(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

P-NOY: I'VE STARTED PACKING


APRIL 8 -What will he miss about the presidency, which he has less than three months of? “When there is a problem, you are able to order the solution,” President Aquino replies. File photo
He may like being able to authorize solutions to pressing problems with one phone call, but President Aquino is ready to give up power 84 days from now.
“I’ve started packing,” he told a group of women in media after a state luncheon he hosted for Prince Albert II of Monaco yesterday. President Aquino then invited six women journalists into his private office for a briefing on certain government programs. His office is actually the former bedroom of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, his father Benigno Aquino Jr.’s arch political enemy. The room is sparsely decorated, save for a painting done by his late mother Corazon and a painting of his parents together on the wall opposite it.
His desk is the same one his mother used as president from 1986 to 1992. Behind his desk are several telephones, one of which is a dedicated hotline to key Cabinet members; the framed original copy of his oath of office, the family Bible on which he and his mother swore to serve the country, a solo photo of his father and a photo of his mother with a statue of the Virgin Mary. Underneath the console table behind him is a pair of leather slippers. 
Next week, he added, the Times street home that he inherited from his parents will be ready for occupancy. He will be living there alone “not by choice,” he laughs, after he steps down. What will he miss about the presidency, which he has less than three months of?
 “When there is a problem, you are able to order the solution,” he replies. For now, his schedule his pretty much the same – desk work in the morning, campaigning in the afternoon and trying to “solve everyone’s problem” in the evening.
But for one solid hour the President was a gracious host, pulling out chairs for his lady guests and serving them chocolates. THE FULL REPORT

ALSO: Enrile - Noy begets ‘3-day presidency’
[The Aquino presidency acquired a new name based on the assessment of Senate Minority Juan Ponce Enrile noting that it takes an average of three days before President Aquino realizes the extent or the severity of a crisis. Enrile said the Aquino administration has time and again proved itself to be slow, if not lacking in action in handling the most serious issues in government. ]


APRIL 8 -ENRILE
The Aquino presidency acquired a new name based on the assessment of Senate Minority Juan Ponce Enrile noting that it takes an average of three days before President Aquino realizes the extent or the severity of a crisis.Enrile said Aquino’s should be called a “three-day” presidency as he blasted the government’s apparent sluggishness and inaction on some of the pressing issues such as the Kidapawan incident and reported laundering of $81 million of Bangladesh funds in the country. “I do not know why it took them so long in responding to the crisis in Kidapawan, My God! They are sleeping. This is a three-day presidency, three days of Mamasapano, three days of Yolanda. It takes them three days before they are pushed into action, like what happened in Kidapawan,” Enrile pointed out. The minority leader said Aquino should have flown to Kidapawan City to address the issues himself of the protesting farmers and prevented the bloody dispersal that left at least three people dead and injured hundreds from both sides - the protesters and ranks of the police.Enrile, in a news forum at the Senate, could not help but take note of the apparent pattern shown by the administration, which has only three months left in office, based on its response to the super typhoon Yolanda in 2014 and the Mamasapano massacre in Jan. last year.“(The Aquino administration) learned nothing from day 1 on how to run a country. All they do is talk growth, growth, growth. What is growth? Do you understand growth? Do you feel it? But you feel hunger. You feel fear. Growth, you don’t feel it. It’s just a number. It’s just an opinion of economies that we are growing but do we share in that growth?” he asked.“The first day that there is a gathering like that – that size – then you ask yourself, what is happening there? If I were president, I would have asked my military aide to prepare my plane to go to Cotabato and Davao. With all my bodyguards, I will go to the place and make a decision,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino finally speaks, admits ‘Noynoying’ on violent farmers’ dispersal


APRIL 10 -A week after the bloody dispersal of hungry North Cotabato farmers demanding food aid from the government, President Aquino finally broke his silence which the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) described as “an admission that the President was ‘Noynoying’ on the impact of drought and justice to the farmers.” Noynoying is a term coined by President Aquino’s critics to question his work ethic and inaction on people’s issues. A play on the term planking and Aquino’s nickname, “Noynoy”, Noynoying involves posing in a lazy manner, such as sitting idly while resting their heads on one hand and doing nothing. “Finally, after a week, the President broke his silence on the Kidapawan carnage. However, the President’s statement confirmed that he was ‘Noynoying’ all along,” says KMP chairperson Rafael Mariano. “The haciendero President’s justification is a substantiation of sheer incompetence and apathy, coupled with brazen lies and cheap alibi,” Mariano said. “Likewise,” the peasant leader said, “Aquino’s statement betrays his weak leadership, indecisiveness, and downright stupidity.” Reports said the President admitted that he only learned about the incident after his visit to Cavite that Friday afternoon, April 1. On that fateful day, Aquino was in Cavite for the turnover of a newly-built school building and a Liberal Party campaign rally and that he also had a fever on the night of April 1. “We were on our way back to Manila when DILG Sec. Mel Sarmiento mentioned he was going to Kidapwan, so I asked him what he was doing there,” Aquino said during an administration campaign activity in Makati City on April 8. “And the truth is that it was the first time I heard that there was a group of farmers who put up a barricade along the highway in Kidapawan which resulted into a violent dispersal,” Aquino added. The report said the President allegedly wanted to resolve the Kidapawan situation and immediately sought a meeting with concerned officials that weekend. A separate meeting with government officials about the April 2 power outage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 3 was also asked by the President on April 3. The two meetings however were pushed back to April 4, since the officials were not yet ready to give their briefing, Aquino said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Where’s P58-B fund for El Niño? Nora Aunor joins protest rally


APRIL 10 -STAR POWER Internationally acclaimed actress Nora Aunor speaks at a protest rally led by the Nationwide and Global Action for Land, Food and Justice on Mendiola Street in Manila on Friday. The mass action demanded justice for farmers killed and injured in the so-called April 1 Kidapawan Massacre. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN 
President Benigno Aquino 3rd should face the public squarely and explain what happened to the supposed P58-billion government fund allocation to help farmers deal with the impact of a massive dry spell brought by the El Niño phenomenon. The Green Action Philippines on Friday raised this point after hundreds of farmers from North Cotabato province in southern Mindanao staged a protest rally in Kidapawan City on March 30 to April 1 that in the presence of policemen turned violent in the end. The protesters demanded five sacks of rice from the provincial government for each of them. But they failed to get approval and the rally ended in a bloody dispersal, resulting in the death of three farmers and injuries to more than 100 people, including policemen. President Aquino has since kept his silence on what critics have referred to as the Kidapawan Massacre. According to Sanshen Maglinte, Green Action Philippines spokesman, the President last year promised that he would order the release of some P19 billion in calamity funds to mitigate the massive negative effects of El Niño. Aside from the P19 billion, Maglinte said, about P39 billion more was handed over to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund for 2016. “The Aquino government has even crafted the Roadmap to Address the Impact of El Niño [RAIN]. What happened to the funds [P19 billion and P39 billion] and to RAIN?” she asked. Maglinte noted that the Department of Agriculture, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Irrigation Administration, can even request an additional budget once the funds allocated to victims of calamities called Quick Response Fund (QRF) has been used up. On top of the QRF, local government units (LGUs) are allowed to use at least 5 percent of their own fund generated from regular revenues for calamity assistance. “As the devastation wrought by the extreme drought due to the El Niño phenomenon spreads and heightens across the country, the Aquino government has again been slow to respond. It has also been slow to take decisive action for the farmers in the face of gross violations of their human rights perpetrated by the local Philippine National Police and under the administration of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza,” Maglinte said. READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘There’s cash, why did tillers go hungry?’ - "DEPLORABLE", SAYS LEGARDA


APRIL 10 -Protesters sit on the files of bags of rice inside the United Methodist Church in Kidapawan City. Action star Robin Padilla visited the protesters on Saturdat afternoon and donate at least 200 bags of commercial rice to the hungry protesters. (Williamor A. Magbanua)

GOVERNMENT agencies have around P50 billion in funds that could be used to mitigate hunger in Kidapawan and other places hit by the El Niño dry spell, noted Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committees on Finance and Climate Change on Friday.
“You are awash in cash. Why don’t you give it to the people who need it the most? Why is it not being spent? Why do farmers have to go hungry and get killed while demanding help?” Legarda asked a panel of agriculture and economic planning officials. Breaking the Senate recess, Legarda called for a finance committee meeting on Friday in the wake of the violent dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City on April 1, which resulted in the death of three protesters and injuries to scores of others. In attendance were officials of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Climate Change Commission, National Food Authority, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).  Legarda gave the government officials a dressing down for failing to bring timely interventions to farmers considering that funds were available.  “Ang bagal-bagal ng gobyerno. ’Di pwedeng mabagal tayong lahat. (The government is so slow. We can’t all be that slow),” said Legarda. The senator cited the estimated P50-billion in combined available savings and quick response funds (QRF) of the Departments of Agriculture, Social Welfare and Development, and the NDRRMC from last year to the current budget. This includes government’s disaster risk reduction fund of P43 billion for 2016 and P5 billion in savings from 2015; DA’s P496.6 million in QRF for 2016 and a balance of P11.9 million from 2015, and the DSWD’s P1.6 billion QRF for this year and the remaining P703.6 million in savings from last year. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

P-Noy: I’ve started packing


What will he miss about the presidency, which he has less than three months of? “When there is a problem, you are able to order the solution,” President Aquino replies. File photo

MANILA, APRIL 11, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Joanne Rae Ramirez April 8, 2016 - He may like being able to authorize solutions to pressing problems with one phone call, but President Aquino is ready to give up power 84 days from now.

“I’ve started packing,” he told a group of women in media after a state luncheon he hosted for Prince Albert II of Monaco yesterday.

President Aquino then invited six women journalists into his private office for a briefing on certain government programs.


His office is actually the former bedroom of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, his father Benigno Aquino Jr.’s arch political enemy.

The room is sparsely decorated, save for a painting done by his late mother Corazon and a painting of his parents together on the wall opposite it.

His desk is the same one his mother used as president from 1986 to 1992. Behind his desk are several telephones, one of which is a dedicated hotline to key Cabinet members; the framed original copy of his oath of office, the family Bible on which he and his mother swore to serve the country, a solo photo of his father and a photo of his mother with a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Underneath the console table behind him is a pair of leather slippers. Next week, he added, the Times street home that he inherited from his parents will be ready for occupancy. He will be living there alone “not by choice,” he laughs, after he steps down.

What will he miss about the presidency, which he has less than three months of? “When there is a problem, you are able to order the solution,” he replies.

For now, his schedule his pretty much the same – desk work in the morning, campaigning in the afternoon and trying to “solve everyone’s problem” in the evening. But for one solid hour the President was a gracious host, pulling out chairs for his lady guests and serving them chocolates.


TRIBUNE

Enrile: Noy begets ‘3-day presidency’ Written by Angie M. Rosales Friday, 08 April 2016 00:00


ENRILE

The Aquino presidency acquired a new name based on the assessment of Senate Minority Juan Ponce Enrile noting that it takes an average of three days before President Aquino realizes the extent or the severity of a crisis.

Enrile said Aquino’s should be called a “three-day” presidency as he blasted the government’s apparent sluggishness and inaction on some of the pressing issues such as the Kidapawan incident and reported laundering of $81 million of Bangladesh funds in the country.

“I do not know why it took them so long in responding to the crisis in Kidapawan, My God! They are sleeping. This is a three-day presidency, three days of Mamasapano, three days of Yolanda. It takes them three days before they are pushed into action, like what happened in Kidapawan,” Enrile pointed out.

The minority leader said Aquino should have flown to Kidapawan City to address the issues himself of the protesting farmers and prevented the bloody dispersal that left at least three people dead and injured hundreds from both sides - the protesters and ranks of the police.

Enrile, in a news forum at the Senate, could not help but take note of the apparent pattern shown by the administration, which has only three months left in office, based on its response to the super typhoon Yolanda in 2014 and the Mamasapano massacre in Jan. last year.

“(The Aquino administration) learned nothing from day 1 on how to run a country. All they do is talk growth, growth, growth. What is growth? Do you understand growth? Do you feel it? But you feel hunger. You feel fear. Growth, you don’t feel it. It’s just a number. It’s just an opinion of economies that we are growing but do we share in that growth?” he asked.

“The first day that there is a gathering like that – that size – then you ask yourself, what is happening there? If I were president, I would have asked my military aide to prepare my plane to go to Cotabato and Davao. With all my bodyguards, I will go to the place and make a decision,” he said.

READ MORE...

For one, Enrile said, Aquino should have issued marching orders to the National Food Authority (NFA) to provide and distribute rice from the government’s buffers, to the starving farmers.

Such move was similar to the rice shortage that took place during the Marcos administration in 1974 and in which Enrile himself took part in the distribution of rice supply.

“I took care of it. Did you know that? I sent all the corn to Mindanao…, we milled it and mixed it with rice to resupply food for the people, many even said they liked the mixture,” he said.

Enrile said the Aquino administration has time and again proved itself to be slow, if not lacking in action in handling the most serious issues in government.

He took note of the inaction taken in the Mamasapano incident as well as in the most recent, the laundering of Bangladesh funds which exposed the country’s weak banking system to the international community and the recent power outage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

On top of this is the continuing criticism on the slow rehabilitation efforts in the Yolanda-stricken provinces.

“He cannot do anything now, what can that President do? He’s a hollow symbol in our society right now,” Enrile said.

“But even then he should have acted on his own…had he been alert he could have alerted (Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas on that alone. If he went with them and acted immediately and ordered to open that warehouse and give them rice, by now nobody can beat Roxas today,” Enrile said.


Enrile branded Aquino’s administration as a ‘three-day presidency’ MANILA BULLETIN FILE by Hannah Torregoza April 7, 2016 (updated)

It was the same thing that the Aquino administration apparently missed out in dealing with the Mamasapano massacre case, saying Aquino “missed the votes to make his candidate win.”

Disappearing Noy noted

Enrile also questioned the President’s silence on the money laundering scandal saying he should have alerted the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) officials over the incident.

“He should have asked the Central bank (officials) hey, what’s this? But no one from their side said anything about it,” he pointed out.

“His system was to stay silent on the issue. His country was used. Why didn’t he take action? His actions, his movements are not spontaneous, as I said, a three-day president. He’s going to think first,” Enrile said.

He said the death of three farmers during the violent dispersal by the police would not have happened if Aquino decisively acted on their complaints.

“Whether we have money (or not), if it concerns hunger, even immediate during the time, during biblical time, they opened their granaries to the people who are begging for food,” he said.

“I don’t think these people read a bit of history or experienced what is it to be hungry. That’s the problem if if you were born to be very rich. You do not know the feeling of the downtrodden people.

“My God, the President should have acted immediately,” he said.

He said the present crop of policemen shoot at people “because they have no training in handling social problems like this, because they never knew what kind of social problem it is that affects the feelings and the lives of the real people, that they consider as their “bosses.”

“This is a question of leadership, a question of innate common sense of a person that shows the character, the values that he knows,” he added.

Bongbong questions Alcala

Vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., meanwhile, said the Department of Agriculture, particularly Agriculture Secretary Proceso “Procy” Alcala, has a lot of explaining to do on how it spent the budget of the agency.

He also expressed suspicion that the budget is just being used for politics rather than on programs that would help farmers cope with El Niño and increase their production.

Marcos aired his concern regarding the disbursement of the DA budget in the wake of the bloody dispersal by the police of the rally in Kidapawan City that left 3 farmers dead and many injured. He has filed a resolution that sought a Senate probe on the incident.

“The DA has a very huge budget in 2016 but it has been utilized only for politics and not for supporting the farmers,” he said.

Records show that for the current year 2016, the total appropriation of the Department is P48.447 billion, more than P2 billion of which was earmarked for El Nino mitigations programs.

He said the farmers shouldn’t be blamed for protesting since they were hungry and fighting for the survival of their families.

“Seventy percent of the poor are from the agriculture sector. You cannot blame them as what they are fighting for is for their families,” he said.
Charlie V. Manalo


TRIBUNE

Aquino admits ‘Noynoying’ on violent farmers’ dispersal Written by Charlie V. Manalo Sunday, 10 April 2016 00:00



A week after the bloody dispersal of hungry North Cotabato farmers demanding food aid from the government, President Aquino finally broke his silence which the militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) described as “an admission that the President was ‘Noynoying’ on the impact of drought and justice to the farmers.”

Noynoying is a term coined by President Aquino’s critics to question his work ethic and inaction on people’s issues. A play on the term planking and Aquino’s nickname, “Noynoy”, Noynoying involves posing in a lazy manner, such as sitting idly while resting their heads on one hand and doing nothing.

“Finally, after a week, the President broke his silence on the Kidapawan carnage. However, the President’s statement confirmed that he was ‘Noynoying’ all along,” says KMP chairperson Rafael Mariano.

“The haciendero President’s justification is a substantiation of sheer incompetence and apathy, coupled with brazen lies and cheap alibi,” Mariano said.
“Likewise,” the peasant leader said, “Aquino’s statement betrays his weak leadership, indecisiveness, and downright stupidity.”

Reports said the President admitted that he only learned about the incident after his visit to Cavite that Friday afternoon, April 1. On that fateful day, Aquino was in Cavite for the turnover of a newly-built school building and a Liberal Party campaign rally and that he also had a fever on the night of April 1.

“We were on our way back to Manila when DILG Sec. Mel Sarmiento mentioned he was going to Kidapwan, so I asked him what he was doing there,” Aquino said during an administration campaign activity in Makati City on April 8.

“And the truth is that it was the first time I heard that there was a group of farmers who put up a barricade along the highway in Kidapawan which resulted into a violent dispersal,” Aquino added.

The report said the President allegedly wanted to resolve the Kidapawan situation and immediately sought a meeting with concerned officials that weekend.

A separate meeting with government officials about the April 2 power outage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 3 was also asked by the President on April 3. The two meetings however were pushed back to April 4, since the officials were not yet ready to give their briefing, Aquino said.

READ MORE...

“Sunday happen to be the rest day for our colleaues but I was so raring to resolve this matter immediately, ,” Aquino said.

When Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. reported back to him that the officials were not ready to give him a briefing, Aquino said they had to talk on Monday.

“It took Aquino two days to call for a meeting that he himself postponed because according to the President, if they were not yet ready, nothing will happen in their meetings as it would take time to gather the data. Isn’t that stupid?” Mariano said.

“This confirms that even after being informed of the violent dispersal, the President tolerated the killings and harassments, and continuously tolerates the starvation, illegal arrest and detention of farmers,” the KMP leader said.

“Until now, Aquino is silent on the impacts of the prolonged drought and hunger, the just, legitimate, and moral demand for food aid, and the calls for justice,” he added.

The KMP called on farmers and the people to continue seeking justice for the victims of Kidapawan violent dispersal and hold President Aquino and all the perpetrators accountable.

“The impunity promoted by Aquino underscores his accountability on the Kidapawan carnage. The President is allowing farmers to starve and die of hunger. He is guilty of incompetence, criminal negligence, and genocide,” the peasant leader maintained.

“Aquino’s days are numbered. He will pay dearly for his crimes against the peasantry,” Mariano warned.


MANILA TIMES

Where’s P58-B fund for El Niño? April 9, 2016 12:50 am by NELSON BADILLA REPORTER


STAR POWER Internationally acclaimed actress Nora Aunor speaks at a protest rally led by the Nationwide and Global Action for Land, Food and Justice on Mendiola Street in Manila on Friday. The mass action demanded justice for farmers killed and injured in the so-called April 1 Kidapawan Massacre. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN

President Benigno Aquino 3rd should face the public squarely and explain what happened to the supposed P58-billion government fund allocation to help farmers deal with the impact of a massive dry spell brought by the El Niño phenomenon.

The Green Action Philippines on Friday raised this point after hundreds of farmers from North Cotabato province in southern Mindanao staged a protest rally in Kidapawan City on March 30 to April 1 that in the presence of policemen turned violent in the end.

The protesters demanded five sacks of rice from the provincial government for each of them. But they failed to get approval and the rally ended in a bloody dispersal, resulting in the death of three farmers and injuries to more than 100 people, including policemen.

President Aquino has since kept his silence on what critics have referred to as the Kidapawan Massacre.

According to Sanshen Maglinte, Green Action Philippines spokesman, the President last year promised that he would order the release of some P19 billion in calamity funds to mitigate the massive negative effects of El Niño.

Aside from the P19 billion, Maglinte said, about P39 billion more was handed over to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund for 2016.

“The Aquino government has even crafted the Roadmap to Address the Impact of El Niño [RAIN]. What happened to the funds [P19 billion and P39 billion] and to RAIN?” she asked.

Maglinte noted that the Department of Agriculture, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Irrigation Administration, can even request an additional budget once the funds allocated to victims of calamities called Quick Response Fund (QRF) has been used up.

On top of the QRF, local government units (LGUs) are allowed to use at least 5 percent of their own fund generated from regular revenues for calamity assistance.

“As the devastation wrought by the extreme drought due to the El Niño phenomenon spreads and heightens across the country, the Aquino government has again been slow to respond. It has also been slow to take decisive action for the farmers in the face of gross violations of their human rights perpetrated by the local Philippine National Police and under the administration of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza,” Maglinte said.

READ MORE...

Estrella Catarata, executive director of the Philippine Network of Food Security Programs, a member of Green Action Philippines, said the extreme dry spell that started last year prevented many farmers in many parts of the country from planting and harvesting in May and October in 2015.



The “lean period extended from the usual five to seven months to more than nine months. But assistance from the government has been wanting and slow, and obviously has not reached most of the starving farmers and their families. The pangs of hunger have prompted them to organize, struggle and demand rice and support from the calamity funds of the government,” Catarata explained.

The problem with the Aquino Administration, according to Bantay Bigas spokesman Cathy Estavillo, is that “instead of assisting the poorest of its constituents, the farmers and the indigenous peoples, the government has neglected them at the height of their hunger.”

Bantay Bigas is also a member of the alliance.

Maglinte said, “If the government only genuinely prepared for El Niño and channeled the funds where they were meant, this tragedy [at Kidapawan] would not have happened. In the longer term, had the government dedicated funds to more productive programs such as developing post-harvest facilities, subsidies, sustainable agriculture programs and appropriate technologies for irrigation instead of the piece-meal Conditional Cash Transfer Program, our farmers would not be as badly hit by calamities.”

She added that the President should explain clearly where the P58-billion fund went and for what purposes it was really used.

The Green Action Philippines describes itself as “a broad national alliance of networks and organizations, institutions including [LGUs], church and inter-faith organizations, academe, students, professionals and individuals, producers and consumers with common advocacies leading toward sustainable production and sustainable consumption.”

It advocates “organic farming, toxic free and GMO free-food and non-food products, sustainable use and allocation of natural resources, as well as food security, including campaign against large-scale mining, GMO-free Philippine farms and genuine agrarian reform, among others.”

3 Responses to Where’s P58-B fund for El Niño?
Anton says:
April 9, 2016 at 7:03 am
Blame pnoy again. A president in democratic society cannot micro manage all local government units. Thats why there are congressmen, senators and mayors so the blaming game should start on these them to the chain of command.
Reply
tomas says:
April 9, 2016 at 7:47 am
Ok lang yan. Si PNoy naman numero uno sa sisihan e.
Abningski says:
April 9, 2016 at 6:42 am
Naibulsa na ang perang yan, nagtanong pa kayo sa hangin!
Reply


INQUIRER

‘There’s cash, why did tillers go hungry?’ By: Tarra Quismundo @TarraINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer 06:55 AM April 10th, 2016
APRIL 2, 2016


Protesters sit on the files of bags of rice inside the United Methodist Church in Kidapawan City. Action star Robin Padilla visited the protesters on Saturdat afternoon and donate at least 200 bags of commercial rice to the hungry protesters. (Williamor A. Magbanua)


GOVERNMENT agencies have around P50 billion in funds that could be used to mitigate hunger in Kidapawan and other places hit by the El Niño dry spell, noted Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committees on Finance and Climate Change on Friday.

“You are awash in cash. Why don’t you give it to the people who need it the most? Why is it not being spent? Why do farmers have to go hungry and get killed while demanding help?” Legarda asked a panel of agriculture and economic planning officials.

Breaking the Senate recess, Legarda called for a finance committee meeting on Friday in the wake of the violent dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City on April 1, which resulted in the death of three protesters and injuries to scores of others.

In attendance were officials of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Climate Change Commission, National Food Authority, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

Legarda gave the government officials a dressing down for failing to bring timely interventions to farmers considering that funds were available.

“Ang bagal-bagal ng gobyerno. ’Di pwedeng mabagal tayong lahat. (The government is so slow. We can’t all be that slow),” said Legarda.

The senator cited the estimated P50-billion in combined available savings and quick response funds (QRF) of the Departments of Agriculture, Social Welfare and Development, and the NDRRMC from last year to the current budget.

This includes government’s disaster risk reduction fund of P43 billion for 2016 and P5 billion in savings from 2015; DA’s P496.6 million in QRF for 2016 and a balance of P11.9 million from 2015, and the DSWD’s P1.6 billion QRF for this year and the remaining P703.6 million in savings from last year.

READ MORE...

“You have not rolled out (projects) and, meanwhile, people are getting killed. Where are these billions from 2015 and 2016?” said Legarda, at one point pounding the table.

“That’s really deplorable. Only in this country do you shoot the hungry,” said Legarda.

She assailed the myopic leadership of “imperial Manila, the imperial central government” for failing to bring help to farmers in far-flung areas when discussions and preparations for the dry spell began as early as 2014.

“Bakit kayo tipid nang tipid eh ang laki ng pondong hiningi sa amin? (Why do you keep saving when you asked us for huge funds?) I don’t see the point unless you did not know they needed it, which is impossible because we’ve been talking about it since 2014,” said Legarda.

But Neda Director General Emmanuel Esguerra, among those invited to the meeting, said the government’s assessment of its El Niño interventions was positive, as there has been no food shortage, food prices have remained stable, and there has be no outbreak of diseases despite limited water supply in certain areas.

“Government has been able to successfully mitigate the impact of El Niño…But despite these encouraging numbers, we recognize there could be areas feeling the heavier impact of El Niño,” said Esguerra.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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