Lacson vows implementation of free irrigation law if elected


Presidential candidate Panfilo Lacson on Saturday vowed to prioritize the implementation of the Free Irrigation Act to support the agriculture sector in the country.

He made the promise in a radio interview as he visited Davao del Norte, and Davao de Oro that are largely agricultural provinces.

“Kasi ako ang nag-author ng Free Irrigation Act at ito ay kailangan sundan ng implementasyon kasi sa ngayon, mayroon pang naiiwanang mahigit isang milyong ektarya na hindi pa na-irrigate,” he said.

(I authored the Free Irrigation Act and this should be implemented because right now around 1 million hectares have remained unirrigated.)

“At kinwenta na namin ito nasa mga P300,000 per hectare kung tayo ay magi-irrigate. So kaya. Kakayanin ng budget natin para fully irrigated tayo,” he added.

(In our calculation, we need around P300,000 per hectare for irrigation, and that could be covered by our national budget.)

Even if the government achieves this, Lacson said the Philippines must keep up with other southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Vietnam in terms of the coverage of irrigated land.

Lacson said the government could use technology to maximize the country’s water resources for its irrigation program.

Apart from that, Lacson said the government should fund its research and development to address the problems in the agricultural sector, including the problem of pests in the banana plantations in the Davao region.

He pointed out that research and development programs only receives 0.4% of the national budget.

In supporting his position, Lacson noted that the International Rice Research Institute sparked agricultural innovation in the Southeast Asia. However, the Philippines is now lagging behind neighboring countries.

He said the past administrations have neglected research and development (R&D), which resulted in the country’s “import-dependent mentality.”

“I-integrate na natin kasi sabog-sabog... Kailangan may umbrella na siyang nangangasiwa, nagmo-monitor para ma-consolidate ang efforts ng ating scientists. Para may programa rin tayo sa kanilang mga inventors,” he pointed out.

(We will integrate all research and development efforts. We need an umbrella organization that will monitor R&D so we could consolidate the initiatives of our scientists. This will also enable us to give programs to our inventors.)

This, we could stop our talented scientists from leaving the country for better opportunities abroad, he added.

“Mayroon tayong wealth ng talented people sa science, i-retain natin sila dito. Bigyan natin sila ng programa na nakatutok sa kanila,” Lacson said.

(We have a wealth of talented people in the field of science. So we need to keep them in the country, and give programs that are focused on them.)

Lacson reiterated his stand against the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience.

He made the remark as he explained how climate change affects the agriculture industry.


In the next year, he said, the country is about to lose around P500 billion due to typhoons.

“Ang [proposal] ko after ng exit call sa Yolanda, mag-create ng isang office under the Office of the President,” he said.

(During my exit call after my work as Yolanda rehab czar, I proposed to create an office under the Office of the President.)

Lacson explained that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is composed of  members of the Cabinet.

“Eh bago mag-convene ‘yan napakatagal...So kailangan meron nakatutok, naka-focus” (Getting these officials to convene takes a long time. We need an office focused on disaster response), he said.

Moreover he said that creation of departments should not be considered as this will further bloat the bureaucracy.

In creating a department, Lacson said, the government needs to provide an office, create regional offices, and designate undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and regional directors, among others.

“Create tayo nang create ng bagong departamento, bloated na ‘yung ating bureaucracy. So isang unit na kung saan merong isang nakatalaga na s’ya ang magko-call ng shots kesa may isang council,” he pointed out.

(We keep on creating departments. This would bloat the bureaucracy. So there should be a unit that will call the shots.)

He said: “Pwede naman i-integrate sa pamamagitan ng isang office na bibigyan ng sapat na authority, kapangyarihan, responsibility at pondo, at resources na ‘di kasing laki ng isang departamento.” 

(We could integrate our efforts in an office that will have enough authority, power, responsibility as well as resources, which is not as huge as when we create a department.)

Lacson and his running-mate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III went to Davao de Norte and Davao de Oro on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

The lawmakers faced around 2,000 people at the Mawab National High School in Davao de Oro on Saturday morning.

Their Davao de Oro sorties were hosted by Davao de Oro 2nd District Rep. Ruwel Gonzaga.

His wife, Dorothy Gonzaga, is running for governor in the province. She will go against Hugpong ng Pagbabago’s Arturo Uy, father of incumbent Governor Tyrone Uy.

The Uys are allied with vice presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the chair of HNP.

Apart from Mawab, the Lacson-Sotto tandem is set to visit Monkayo, Davao de Oro.

According to the Commission on Elections, there are 508,221 registered voters in Davao de Oro.

Of the said number, 28,094 are in Mawab, and 64,668 are in Monkayo. —LBG, GMA News