Rody Duterte never forgets.
Last night, as the 4-hour long third Cabinet meeting came to a close in Malacañang, I approached President Rody Duterte and reminded him of our commitment during the campaign of providing free irrigation water to the country's small rice farmers.
"Mr. President, I would like to inform you that I have done my leg work to realize our commitment of free irrigation to the rice farmers," I told him.
"I have not forgotten. That's a commitment which will be fulfilled," he told me even as he reminded me that the rice farmers will have to organize themselves and make sure that the irrigation canals are well maintained even as the irrigation water will be provided free.
It was actually during a visit to my hometown in M'lang, North Cotabato in August of 2015 when then Mayor Rody Duterte was briefed on the problems of rice farmers who have to shell out a huge part of their harvest to pay for irrigation fees.
Of the total irrigation fees paid by the rice farmers every harvest, 60% goes to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) as Irrigation Service Fees (ISF) which is used to pay for the salaries and wages of the agency's officials and employees.
Nation-wide every year, the NIA collects over P3-B while the services have remained very poor.
It was then when Mayor Duterte publicly declared that should he become President, he will make sure that irrigation water will be provided free to the small rice farmers.
"Why ask the Filipino farmers to pay for what is theirs?," he asked maintaining that water is national patrimony owned by the Filipinos.
When I informed him that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Loren Legarda has promised to support his free irrigation commitment to the farmers, the President was obviously elated.
There are actually two ways of realizing the President's commitment of free irrigation and these are the amendment of NIA's charter or an annual support of P4-B to cover the ISF.
Whatever is the case, the President's commitment of free irrigation will certainly be realized.
When Rody Duterte makes a promise, he makes sure it is fulfilled.
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