“Kagaya ng dati, nalugi na ang mga magsasaka bago sila binigyan ng ayuda. Humihiyaw sila ng tulong, pagkain at puhunan para makabangon mula sa tagtuyot ng kanilang mga pananim. Para maiba naman, sana’y makarating agad ang tulong ng pamahalaan sa kanila.”

Senatorial bet Lorenzo ‘Erin’ Tañada appealed to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol to grant the wishes of farmers and deliver as soon as possible the assistance they badly need.

“Matagal nang pinaabot ng PAGASA na tatamaan ng drought ang ilang bahagi ng ating bansa. Kung nakapaghanda ang ating pamahalaan, lalo na ang ahensya ni Secretary Piñol, maaga sanang nabigyan ng puhunan ang mga magsasakang hindi makakapagtanim dahil sa kawalan ng tubig. Hindi makakapaghintay ang kumakalam na sikmura ng kanilang mga anak. Hindi maaaring antayin ng mga magsasaka ang atrasadong tulong kung nagkasakit na ang kanilang pamilya,” said Tañada.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned of severe El Niño until possibly May or June.

The former Deputy Speaker earlier called on the local government units and the Department of Agriculture to work together to use the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) to give aid to the farmers and their families.

The PSF is a special fund in the National Treasury, created through Republic Act 10174 that was authored by Tañada when he was still the Representative of the 4th District of Quezon in the House of Representatives. The fund intends to finance adaptation programs and projects to address the harmful impact of drought, flooding and other extreme weather events caused by climate change.

The LGUs with the participation of farmers and other affected sectors were supposed to come up with adaptation programs and projects based on the National Strategic Framework on Climate Change.

“The farmers’ losses are mounting. The agricultural sector is among those that are severely affected by the El Niño we are experiencing now. The PSF is in every way, an empowerment fund and should serve its purpose. The role of the legislators is to craft laws and it is the responsibility of the executive to implement it. We all know that the agriculture agencies have been remiss in this regard,” Tañada lamented.