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PH ready to face El Niño, says NIA chief

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY --- The head of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said he believes the country is ready to address the El Niño phenomenon in the coming months with the convergence of national government agencies.

At a press conference on Friday, NIA administrator Eduardo Guillen said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s message on unity starts with the national government to remove parochial thinking.

“Lahat tulong-tulong ngayon. Ang gusto ng ating Pangulo, hindi na lang flood control ang ginagawa ng highways, kundi water management. So in his mind, the best flood control project is water management. Pag umulan, bakit tayo kailangan bahain. Eh di maglagay na kayo ng retarding basin para siya na ang mag-ipon ng tubig at irelease natin pag tag-araw. So wala nang baha, meron tayong magamit na tubig (Everyone helps one another now. What our President wants is not just flood control for the highways, but water management. So in his mind the best flood control project is water management. When it rains, why do we have to be flooded? Why don’t you put it in a retarding basin to collect water and let’s release it during summer? So there is no flood and we have usable water),” Guillen said.

He said the long-term solution for the El Niño phenomenon is creating high dams.

INTER-AGENCY CONVERGENCE. National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Eduardo Guillen (right), together with Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co (center) and Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, during an interview with the media in Legazpi City on Friday (June 30, 2023). Guillen was in Legazpi to meet with more than 200 irrigators associations in the region during their congress. (PNA photo by Connie Calipay)

“Pag nagtayo tayo ng high dams, meron na tayo irrigation, meron ka na rin power generation, hindi lang un flood control, aquaculture, the lake can be put up with solar panels, tourism (When we build high dams, we have irrigation, power generation – not just flood control – aquaculture, solar panels can be put up at the lake, tourism). All major river basin(s) must have high dams,” he added.

Guillen also said the President wants farmers to value-add and maximize the value chain.

“The President wants the help inputs to the farmers must be given right and on-time. He wants before we release water, the farm inputs are already with the farmers,” he said.

Guillen added that PHP200 billion in funding per year is needed to boost the country’s agricultural inputs for farmers.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, who chairs the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, commended the initiatives and programs presented to them by Guillen.

“For the first time, in 27 years of my public service, I’ve seen a comprehensive, integrated, and advanced strategy for water. I’ve never seen a convergence that can work. So if there is a convergence, money can be sourced out if the objectives are clear and the outcomes in terms of better lives for the people and more secure food for everyone,” Salceda said.

He said the NIA administrator has the ears and eyes of the President.

Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co underscored the need for a master plan that would guide the various government agencies in delivering better services.

“I think it is good that the regional directors of the different government agencies must have workshops to have a master plan,” said Co, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations.

Guillen was in Legazpi City to meet with more than 200 irrigators associations (IA) in the region during the IA Congress at Hotel St. Ellis to relay the message of unity in the national government on how to better deliver services to them.

“We want them to form cooperatives per town. Our irrigators associations will have a wider scoop of assistance if they are registered coop,” he said. (PNA)


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