Press Release
October 25, 2015


Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said the Department of Agriculture (DA) should begin distributing certified seeds of corn and palay from its buffer stock to help farmers devastated by Typhoon "Lando."

Escudero noted that the DA was able to release its supplies from the buffer stock of seeds after Typhoon "Santi" struck Central Luzon in October 2013, to enable farmers meet their target harvest time.

"If the DA did it then, why can't they do it now? What is the difference? Similarly, it is also an election year then," Escudero lamented.

He added that this can be charged against the existing appropriation of the DA or the calamity fund of the DA or the Office of the President. "This is the best way to help our farmers recover from the devastation of Lando and help reduce our rice imports next year."

With the seed buffer stock, the DA have pre-positioned 10 percent of the rice seed requirements of every region to enable provinces struck by calamities to replant immediately.

The DA does not only provide certified seeds for rice but for corn, root crops, fruits and vegetables as well.

Escudero, who is leading various pre-election surveys for vice presidency, said he was receiving complaints that the DA was not performing its mandated duty to help out farmers, particularly in time of calamities.

"I have been getting complaints from mayors of affected towns that the DA, instead of providing them with certified seeds as they should, the DA is referring them to private suppliers. Now where is the government?" asked Escudero.

According to the veteran lawmaker, the government has the Quick Response Fund (QRF)--a built-in budgetary allocation that serves as a standby fund of key agencies to enable them assist at the soonest possible time areas hit by disasters.

Under the 2015 budget, QRF is available in the Department of Public Works and Highways (P1 billion), Department of National Defense (P325.5 million), Office of the Civil Defense (P500 million), Department of Education (P1 billion), Department of Social Welfare and Development (P1.325 billion), Department of Health (P500 million), National Irrigation Administration (P500 million) and the DA (P500 million).

The QRF does not require the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) or the approval of Office of the President to use and release of funds, unlike the Calamity Fund. When the agency depletes its QRF, it may request for replenishment from the DBM, subject to the approval of the Office of the President.

"The government always has contingencies to respond in times of disasters. You have the certified seeds in stock, the Quick Response Fund. But where are these now?" asked Escudero, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance.

News Latest News Feed