Garin questions P1-B DA budget for 'impractical' solar panel irrigation system

Iloilo Representative Janette Garin on Monday, Sept. 27 questioned the P1-billion worth of funds proposed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) supposedly for the government’s solar panel irrigation system (SPIS) project, saying she finds the program “untimely” and “impractical” at this point in time.

“While I do laud irrigation projects I also find it untimely and impractical to have projects that are wants instead of needs,” Garin said during the Lower House’s deliberations on the proposed 2021 national budget of the DA.

“Of course that is our dream. But we want to have a solar panel irrigation system which might even be more expensive than the communal irrigation system,” she pointed out.

Garin said the funding for the solar powered irrigation project should be funneled instead to support the country’s fishing industry which only garners around 15 percent of government support.

“Why spend P1.2-billion for a new project, which I would look at as a dream, and rather than a need? Because in this time of a pandemic, our farmers need more support especially if we’re talking about food sufficiency,” she pointed out.

“Our fishermen are forced to sell their fish at a low price because they lack facilities, they don’t even have processing plants, ice-making facilities. And here we are spending more than a billion pesos for a new project that has not been proven to work,” she lamented.

Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr., who is defending the DA’s proposed budget for next year, said the agency aims to comply with the advocacies of the World Bank and Green Energy against climate change. Haresco also pointed out the use of SPIS would be cost-efficient.

However, Garin pointed out there are other ways in which the country can contribute to the global environmental campaign.

“The Green Energy’s campaign is laudable, and of course, we do respect the advocacies and leadership of the World Bank. However, if we look at the priorities of our country, there are other areas where we can contribute to climate change. Waste management is one, and our private sector, the businessmen, manufacturing industry, can help us achieve (our advocacies on) climate change,” she stressed.

“I don’t agree there is going to be a reduced cost. Because it is more expensive to maintain a SPIS than our communal systems. Let’s go back to the basic of all these discussion. While we do support the WB, I also don’t think we have to stick by what they say,” she reiterated.