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Transcript of Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Sen. Cynthia Villar

Q: On bird flu virus

Villar: Tapos na po ang bird flu sa atin, based on the repoprt of the Department of Agriculture. Noong may bird flu tayo hindi tayo nag-hear doon because bising-busy po ang DA. I truly believe na kung may problemang ganoon, ubusin muna nila ang oras nila para isolve ang problem and afterwards we can talk about it. They said it's finished, okay na, normal na ang lahat. Iyong 1 km radius where it occured, maghihintay lang sila ng several months so that they can continue again their business. Iyong mga pinatay na chicken, babayaran naman ng DA. They will be compensated para naman hindi sila masyadong lugi. At the same time, pag-resume nila ng business, they will be helped by DA.

Ang atin pong DA hanggang regional. Na-devolve po iyong provincial at saka iyong city and municipality. Pinag-usapan namin na inspite na na-devolve iyon, dapat continuous ang training sa mga municipal agriculturists at saka sa mga provincial agriculturists. Because sila iyong nasa baba, sila ang makakakita ng mga problema. Kung hindi sila marunong, hindi nila mare-report. Katulad noon, na-report in July, nangyari in April. Merong konting pagkukulang. We cannot blame, kasi under the Local Government Code, na-devolve ang agriculture sa provincial and municipal level, naiwan lang iyong regional office ng DA.

So today I told them, there should be continuous training of municipal, city and provincial agriculturists so that they can be of help during these times na kailangan sila. Kasi hindi naman kaya ng DA, masyado silang malayo sa problema. Kasi from regional, dapat marunong din ang municipal saka provincial.

Q: Ngayon lang lumabas ang point na may problema pala sa devolution ng DA

Villar: Talagang meron. Ang devolution would have its advantages and disadvantages. We have to look at the advantages and try to cure those disadvantages. Hindi naman natin pwede na ibalik kasi that would be against the devolution of local powers pero we have to see the problems so that we can solve the problem.

Q: Does it require legislative remedy?

Villar: Hindi na po. It's a policy of the department na may budget sila dapat na continuous training ng mga municipal and provincial agriculturists. Dapat talagang agriculturists sila. They know their mandate, they know their responsibilty. Kasi minsan nagiging political position, hindi alam na iyon ang trabaho nila.

Q: So this is a fair warning from you as chair of the Committee on Agriculture, you will still call DA Sec. Pinol to explain before you and how soon kaya iyon ma'am?

Villar: Sabi nila meron na silang memorandum of agreement with DILG that this should be solved. DILG kasi ang may influence sa local government. May MOA na sila na dapat i-correct ito na iyong mga agriculturist na iyan dapat may constant relationship with the DA. Katulad ng agriculturist namin sa city, tinatanong ko, ano ba trabaho mo? Sabi niya, nagi-injection daw ng aso. Ibig sabihin, very limited iyon lang ang kanyang gagawin. Dapat meron silang plano. I would try to pass a bill requiring local governments to allocate a certain amount of their budget to agriculture. Like iyong GAD budget, diba ang GAD budget natin 5% of income should go to the GAD, gender and equality development. Maybe we shoudl allocate another 5% to agriculture. Kasi hindi lahat ng local government mahilig sa agriculture. Kapag hindi mahilig, wala nang ibibigay sa agriculture. But if it is a requirement, then they are forced to make a program.

Q: Tsaka ang agriculture, hindi lang naman mga plants

Vilalr: Hindi. Ang agriculture natin is tatlong sector, crops which is 50%, livestock, poulty and dairy 33%; and fisheries 15% to make up 100. We are trying to say na iyang farm is a business, it's not just a farm and you are a farmer. You have a farm business and you are a business man. You must learn to manage your farm as a business that makes money kasi kung hindi iyan kikita, iiwanan mo iyan. Sino magtitiis sa isang negosyo na hindi kumikita? We have to teach them how to be a small businessman itong ating mga farmers and make sure that they earn because if they don't earn, their children will not continue the farm. If the children will not continue the farm, there is a prediction by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization that if we are not able to maintain our family farms in the world, we will have a food shortage 33 years from now or in 2050. So it is important for our food security that we make the farms profitable so that the children of farmers will continue their farms.

Q: And you have filed exactly a bill to institutionalize farm schools all over the Philippines.

Villar: According to the study of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, why farmers are not competitive or they don't earn enough, there are four reasons; lack of technology, lack of mechanization, lack of financial literacy, and lack of ability to access cheap credit. We thought that will be solved through education. Hindi nag-aral eh, kaya hindi alam. So ngayon inencourage ko ang may mga small farm na one hectare, na magagaling, na mag-establish sila ng farm school, magpa-accredit sila sa TESDA para bayaran ng TESDA ang tuition ng students.

I want a farm school in every town of the Philippines. Kasi alam mo, ang mga farmer natin mahihirap lang sila so kapag malayo ang school, hindi sila makakapasok kasi walang pamasahe, walang baon. Pero kung it's in the town itself, at may magtuturo nang libre, mapipilitan silang mag-aral and they can do their farming in a more competitive manner para lumaki ang kita nila para iyong children nila will stay in the farm.

Q: Ano ang stage ng farm school bill na iyan ngayon?

Villar: Ile-legislate ko to make it permanent pero right now we have listed 900 farm schools. Last year we have 382, now 900 and TESDA is giving more than 20% of their budget on training to farm school. Kasi kapag ikaw ay may farm school, a teacher can teach 25 students, 3 months babayaran ng TESDA ng 12,000. So ang bayad sayo mga 300,000 every 3 months. May 100,000 a month ka for teaching in your farm. Siguro naman tama na iyon na makakabayad ka na ng teacher, mame-maintain mo na ang farm school mo. Iyon ang atin, ang sustainability ng farm school.

Q: Ang point ng bill ninyo is just institutionalizing...

Villar: Oo kasi ngayon ginagawa na namin ng TESDA iyon. TESDA and myself, ako ang nagmu-move. TESDA ang kapartner ko kasi nasa kanya ang pera for training. Ngayon kung pumayag si Secretary Mamudiong pumayag siya, ako tumutulong okay lang iyon pero we will not be there forever. He will not be there forever and I will not be there forever so to make it permanent, we will legislate para hindi mawala iyon.

Money for training is with TESDA, this is a vocational course in agriculture. Ang training budget ng TESDA kino-cover nila ang agriculture, services at saka manufacturing and construction and others. Lahat iyan may percentage of the budget. They have given to agriculture more than 20% of their budget.

Q: Mabalik tayo sa buid flu, you will call Agri Sec. Pinol...

Villar: No, they are making a report. Before we approve the budget, they will make a written report on what happened and so that we will learn from it and whatever things that we have to avoid that in the future, we will not do.

I am asking him to increase the budget for livestock, poultry and dairy because this sector produces 33% of their output. Ang liit-liit ng budget na binigay nila so sabi ko dapat fair. Parang 3% of the budget . Sabi ko, parang mali iyan, we will reallocate so that we give the budget where it is due. Kasi lahat ng budget nila dinala nila sa crops. If you are 50% crops, you give 50% of budget to crops. If you are 33% livestock, you give 33% of the budget to livestock, poultry and dairy. Then if fisheries is 15%, you give 15% of the budget. I am not asking for perfection but it's something like that. Maybe hindi ganoon ka-exact pero at least, malapit doon.

Q: Don't you find it disappointing na everytime may annual economic report, agriculture remains to be less than 10% ang improvement?

Villar: Agriculture is 10% of GDP. Pero alam mo kasi, maski anong sabihin nila, na agriculture is just 10% of GDP, after the war it is 25% of GDP, pero pagkain natin iyan. Kapag hindi natin inalagaan iyan, ano ang kakainin natin. It's not profitable so people are leaving agriculture. We have to make it profitable. That's what we are doing by teaching them how to make it profitable so that they will stay in agriculture. We cannot leave agriculture because our food security depends on agriculture.

Q: Hindi ba pwedeng i-impose iyan sa budget hearing na dapat mag-improve ang agriculture this much because we are giving you so much?

Villar: Hindi naman komo binigyan mo ng malaking budget, magi-improve depende rin sa strategy mo how to use the budget. That's why we have oversight on the budget so that we will make sure that we are improving agriculture.

Q: Kapag may disaster pa, destruction...

Villar: That is why we are trying to develop iyong agricultural insurance. That's how you solve it. I-insure mo ang agricultural products. Kapag tinamaan ang mga farmer, magke-claim sila sa insurance then makaka-recover sila. We have the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation but it's not that big. We have to make it big para lahat nang gustong ma-cover, ma-cover. And I was telling them, maybe we can ask the private sector to do it together with government kasi kung government lang, I don't think it will be enough to the point of subsidizing insurance for the farmer. Kasi diba meron tayong nilalagay na disaster budget para ipamimigay. Bakit hindi mo na lang i-subsidize ang insurance tapos iyong mga tatamaan magke-claim na lang sa insurance, mas efficient iyon kaysa dole out tapos nagkakamali-mali ang bigay, paloko-loko ang bigay, corruption. I was thinking na part of the disaster budget should go to insurance para iyong mga tao instead of waiting for dole out, they will just claim from the insurance.

We are studying how to make it better. We are being helped by the insurance commission to do the bill that will promote that kasi syempre kailangan ang bill na isusulat mo ay tama rin. Kasi pwede kang mag-legislate tapos hindi naman naging effective. You really have to study how to make it effective, magiging operational. Kasi marami ding bill na nakasulat na lang wala namang nangyayari.

I think I can see the application better kasi I came from business so I know how to apply things. Kasi sa akin, kung hindi naman maa-apply nang maganda, why will you pass a bill?

Q: One of your advocacies is environment, how do you jibe agriculture and environment into your mix of priorities?

Villar: Alam mo, very related ang environment at agriculture because the sustainability of agriculture is also the sustainability of the environment. For example, this organic farming. Sa organic farming, you make your own fertilizer and pesticide that's natural, from waste. You make your own through composting. Through composting, vermicomposting, you are solving the environmental problem of the community kasi iyong waste nare-recycle mo. At the same time, iyong product mo nagagamit ng farmer libre na iyon kasi recycling lang iyon ng waste tapos nagiging organic farming.

Do you know that in Europe, they are promoting na natural farming. They don't want chemical pesticide at saka chemical fertlizer. Why? Of course, mas better na kumain tayo ng organic. At the same time, they discovered that yung frequent use of chemical fetilizer and chemical pesticide, napo-pollute ang river at waterways nila. Kinompute nila, iyon daw kita nila sa export ng kanilang products from agriculture is just enough to pay to clean their waterways. So parang useless, nao-offset na iyon. Tapos nadiskubre nila na iyong mga farmers na sobra ang use ng chemical fertilizer at chemical pesticide, nagkaka-cancer. And I thought it was only in Europe. One day I was speaker sa isang Philippine Nurses Association affair, ang president nila from the Cordilleras. Alam mo ba ang sabi sa akin, without me telling what the European said, madami daw nagkaka-cancer sa Cordillera na mga farmer. Frequent exposure. Ibig sabihin, nakikita mo ngayon ang relationship ng environment at saka ng agriculture. So they go together.

Q: Marami na bang organic farming sa Pilipinas ngayon?

Villar: Actually, the target is 5% by 2016. By 2016, naka- 1.5 lang. Pero nagyong 2017 nag-review kami, 4.5 na daw of the farms are organic. From 2013 to 2016, I gave 800 composting facilities all over the Philippines. Baka nakatulong iyon because naka-produce sila ng organic fertilizer so nagtitipid sila sa fertilizer, iyon ang ginamit naging organic tuloy ang mga farm nila. We are continuously distributing kasi alam mo, ang mga farmer natin mahihirap. Wala naman silang pambili ng fertlizer so i-convert na lang natin iyong ating mga kitchen and garden waste into fertlizer para hindi na sila bibili. At the same time, malinis pa ang community natin.

Q: Iyong mga Amerikano kapag sinabi mong farmer, sila iyong mayayaman.

Villar: Heavily-subsidized sila. Alam mo, ang secret is you have to produce it in a big amount na competitive price para makakalaban ka doon sa mga iniimport abroad. Hindi nga natin ma-produce nang ganoon kaya iyon ang intention natin to be able to produce it at a competitive price. Kapag kasi we produce it enough at a competitive price, wala na iyang cartel na iyan, wala na rin ang smuggling na iyan. It's not profitable for them anymore because we are competitive.

Q: Nabalita na galit na galit kayo dahil nag-recur na naman ang smuggling?

Villar: It's cartel. Kasi ang production natin ng garlic is only 8 percent of demand so kontrolado nila yung market then they import. Of course, if they are a cartel importing, syempre nako-control nila ang price. Like for example, 8 percent lang, that's one month supply lang. The rest of the year, you import and you are just one group, so you would just control the price. Kaya ang secret is to produce it a bigger amount, hindi nila mako-control at the same time, produce it at a price na competitive.

Q: Ang napapansin ko, hindi ka combative sa mga ganyan but you are pushing buttons...

Villar: There are two ways to solve smuggling and cartel. One is developmental, turuan mo na ang farmer to produce more at a competitive price. Another one is prosecution. Mahina ang prosecution so we cannot wait for them. Like for example ang cartel ngayon, DOJ plus Philippine Competition Commission (PCC). Ang PCC can break cartel and sila iyong civil liability. Ang criminal liability nasa DOJ, ipo-prosecute ng DOJ. So dalawa na sila. Hopefully, maski isa sa kanila makagawa ng trabaho. I forwarded to PCC the papers. In fairness to PCC, ngayon lang sila August 8 fully implemented. The law was passed two years ago. They were given 2 years, the cartels, to make changes and now August 8 they can prosecute.

Q: You are also one of the authors of the PCC law...

Villar: Yes. Sabi ko nga mag-assign sila sa agriculture. Maraming cartel sa agriculture. Mag-assign sila ng isang team for agriculture, rice, garlic.

Q: At the other side of the coin smugglers...

Villar: We passed in 2015 declaring large scale agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage. Ang IRR natapos ngayong July. We will see... Pag 10 million ang rice, economic sabotage. Pero any other agricultural product 1 million lang, economic sabotage. Kapag economic sabotage kulong ka muna, parang plunder non-bailable. Wala pang nakukulong.

Q: Ano kaya ang magagawa ninyo para maka-send ng chilling effect...

Villar: Sinabi ko sa DOJ, magsample kayo kahit isa sa cartel, isa sa smuggling. Kasi kapag hindi tayo nag-sample, walang matatakot sa atin. But I cannot do it, I'm not the justice department. I'm just an oversight so DOJ should do it.Sabi nila they will. We'll see.

Q: They have a long list...

Villar: They have the list. Nilabas na naman ni Senator Lacson diba. May list si Senator Lacson na nasa list din namin, the cartel and the smugglers. Common knowledge naman ito.

Q: Ano ang stand ninyo sa postponement ng barangay elections?

Villar: Ipo-postpone daw nila next October. Okay lang iyon, wala namang problema pero walang appointment just postponement all over.

Q: What is now NP doing to make sure 2019 is not another defection to PDP-LABAN?

Villar: No, when we talk of senators? Ako I am running for reelection. I think the Marcoses will field a candidate. The Cayetanos will field a candidate. Okay kami. Hindi naman namin kailangan ng partido para manalo. We are not fielding 12. Wala namang nakaka-field ng 12.

Q: Mag-aadopt kayo?

Villar: Kami ang ia-adopt siguro. Basta kami, I think sure yung 3.

Q: Ano ang status ng freedom island sanctuary ninyo laban sa MIAA?

Villar: Winithdraw na ng DENR ang permit to reclaim. Iyong company na magre-reclaim nagwithdraw na rin so we are back. Right now, I am building there the Las Pinas-Paranaque Wetland Park. I am building a Visitors Center. It's being built now, kasi there will be a UN convention on the protection of migratory animals in October here in the Philippines to be attended by 1,000 delegates from abroad. This will be the first time it will be held in Asia and in the Philippines at that. So we are improving it kasi they are going to visit it. We are building a visitors' center donated by my family. Then the Department of Tourism, because it has been declared an eco-tourism area, gave P45 million to build a wetland center which has a wetland museum, a training center, office of DENR and a restaurant. Hindi pa sinisimulan ng TIEZA kasi gobyerno sila, matagal sila but we are going to finish the visitors' center by October 20.

Doon sa Paranaque, there is a port doon bulungan. It's the Paranaque government together with BFAR will improve that bulungan so that it will be presentable.

We have a salt farm along the river, we have a farm school along the river. We have a historical place along the river, the Molino Dam which was built in 1882 by our priest and saint San Ezekiel Moreno. We have the Battle of Zapote Bridge which happened in 1897. We have environmental projects along the river.

Q: Iyong migratory birds sanctuary walang conflict sa airport...

Villar: There was a study by NEDA. In fact they say it is better that they are there. If there's no place there, then they will go to the airport. Saka iyong nasa airport kalapati, hindi migratory birds. And every airport in the world may problemang ganyan. They have ways of driving away the birds. Even if you go to the airport in Leyte, ang dami ding birds. Meron silang sound system na dino-draw away iyong birds.

Iyong park is 175 hectare protected area. It has 36 hectares of mangrove, 84 species of birds, 3 of them are endangered, the black stilt, the Philippine duck and the Chinese egret. We have 1,000 of the remaining 100,000 in the world. Kapag nasayo ang 1 percent of an endangered specie, you automatically join the Ramsar List as one of the most important wetlands of the world. We are in the Ramsar List together with Tubbataha Reef, Palawan Underground River, Olango Island in Cebu, Nauhan Lake in Oriental Mindoro and the Agusan Marsh. We are six. The Ramsar Convention is a convention signed by countries. I think 100 plus countries, and the Philippines is a signatory. If your wetland is in the Ramsar List, your government is required to protect that. That is an environmental treaty.

Q: Maraming naiintriga, bakit very active ka sa Baseco and Sen. Manny Villar was encouraged to run for mayor...

Villar: No. There is a mandamus issued by the Supreme Court in 2008. We have to clean Manila Bay. When we say Manila Bay, it includes Pasig River and Laguna Lake. The oversight there is DENR and I am the chairman of the Committee on Environment so I am oversight. They instructed 13 national government agencies and all LGUs to clean Manila Bay. I am doing that as a pilot project for a poor community along Manila Bay how to solve their problem. Because Baseco has 10,000 families, 5,000 of them have no toilet. Where will you throw the waste? Into the Manila Bay. We are building now toilets for Baseco together with the DOH and the DSWD so that they will have toilets. Then we are planting mangroves kasi iyong mangrove protection against typhoon surge. Kapag nag-typhoon surge sa Manila Bay hindi sila tatamaan so that is with DENR. Kasama sa mandamus and DA-BFAR so they are buidling aquaculture there para may fish na sila, meron na silang pagkain. The Bureau of Soils and Water Management volunteered to build gardens there. Ngayon nagbi-build na kami. We are doing many kinds of livelihood together with the Pasig River Rehab kasi meron silang building doon, dinadagdagan namin ng livelihood. This is just a work in connection with the mandamus on Manila Bay. Hindi kami interesado sa Manila, we are insterested to implement the mandamus in Manila Bay. Si Sen. Villar talaga pinanganak sa Tondo, we have a house in Tondo. Iyong kanyang pinagpanganakan inuupahan niya noon, pinagbili sa amin 10 years ago so may house kami talaga doon. But it's not about running for mayor. They are imagining things.

Q: Is Your son Mark running in 2019?

Villar: No, he will stay in DPWH until 2022... I will run in 2019 so how can my son run in 2019? We will run together? You cannot sino iboboto...

Q: Irereclaim daw ang Baseco...

Villar: Pero parang meron silang policy na they don't want any reclamation in Metro manila kasi congested na tayo sa Metro Manila. If you do reclamation, you attract more people then we will be more congested. Parang they want to do reclamation but outside of Metro Manila.

Q: May irereclaim daw sa Bacoor...

Villar: Plano lang iyon. Kasi kapag kapag nireclaim daw kami, sabi ng DPWH during Babes Singson's time, we'll have flood 8 meters that's 3-storey. Kasi lahat ng tubig ng Cavite bumababa sa amin. Kapag hindi iyon lumabas sa Manila Bay, magi-stay sa Las Pinas. It will not go back to Cavite because Cavite is high.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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