This is the text of the speech delivered by Senate Minority Floor Leader Ralph Recto to endorse the confirmation of DA Sec. Manny Piñol on Feb. 1, 2017
Mr. Chairman, my dear colleagues:
If rice farmer will plant a hectare by his lonesome, it is said that he has to bend forward 200,000 times to punch palay seedlings into the soil.
But first, he must plow the land, slogging 40 kilometers, kasinh haba ng marathon, in knee-deep mud, with one hand on a heavy iron plow, and the other on a one-ton carabao.
Kaya kung bilib tayo sa workout ng ating Pambansang Kamao, mas lalo pa dapat sa ating mga magsasaka.
If farming is the hardest occupation in this part of the planet, the toughest jon in the Cabinet is that of the DA Secretary.
Justice can be delayed, but eating is not postponable. The country can even susrvive without a president, but not without food.
People will queu, patiently, for an MRT tide, a passport, an NB clearance. But once you make them line up for rice, the Republic will fall.
Yet,while those in charge of the national security gave the armed forces under their command, the one in charge of food security operates under market forces.
His performance depends as much on God, as it does on good governance. Failed crops can be caused by El Niño, but the worst is wreaked by a drought of funds.
Hindi siya pwedeng tamad. Because while other Cabinet members get their performance measured in annual surveys, the DA secretary faces a referandum every morning in public markets.
And every day his constituency expands. In fact, the goalpost he must hit moves every minute.
For example, if we be in plenary for 40 minutes, then by the time we adjourn, 136 babies would have been born.
Paglaki ng mga iyan, mahilig yan sa unli-rice, kasi nga.may rice-loving gene in our DNA. Each Filipino on the average eats 119 kilos or ri e anually.
The 136 Pinoys will thus devour 16'1 rons of rice yearly. To produce this, we have to open up 7 hectares of land to irrigation, the size of about 166 basjetbl courts, at a cost of P1.4 million.
But we produce babies in industrial scale. About 4,400 are born every 24 hours, 15 times the membership of the House.
For 2017, our population will grow by about 1.603 million. By 2020, there willbe 109.26 million of us.
In ten years, there will be 120.1 million crowding this sliver of land that typhoons hit first but investors choose last.
We are adding the population of one Singapore every 3 years and 4 months. In 10 years, our population will grow by 17.5 million, or the population of Denmark, Finland and Norway.
On rice, 17.5 million more mouths to feed means we have to ramp up rice supply by 2.1 million metric tons a year.
To achieve this, we can increase imports or, per one study, irrrigate more lands at a rate of 77,000 hectares - or more than three times the size of Camiguin - every year, until 2027.
That 17.5 million also means 645 million additional kilos of fish every year, and 178 million kilos more of poultry products.
While this can be seen as a challenge, it should be viewed as a huge market and jobs opportunity, if we grow the food we import.
Sa noodles nga lang, ang pambansang pagkain ng GNP, or Gutom na Pilipino - 34 na.pakete kada taon ang hinihigop nh kada Pinoy, pampito sa buong mundo.
We imported 16.5 billion pesos worth of work in 2015 kasi mahilig tayo sa.humba at adobo na hinaluan ng Lipitor.
Sa kape, we imported 92 million metric tons, not because we are addicted to caffeine, but we love free planners.
Sa bawang at sibuyas, higit tig-isang kilo bawat Pilipino ang inaangkat natin taun-taon.
Halos tatlong daang bilyong piso.ang ating food import bi yunh deklarado, hindi kasama ang smuggled, tulad ng pinuslit na pusit.
The list goes on and on.
Ano ang punto ko? Food production and rural development must remain national priorities, and the national budget musy reflect so.
Agriculture absorbs 27 percent of jobs, and is home to 40 percent of the poor. It is Ground Zero in the war against poverty.
We graduate 1 million poor from poverty every year by 2022.
Nasaan ang karamihan sa kanila? Nasa agrikultura.
In the war against hunger, food eats up 60 percent of the budget of the bottom 30 percent of families, so keeping it affordable minimizes the pressure for wage hikes.
Kaya ang gusto ng tao, makatikim ng murang pagkain at hindi lang mira mula sa Pangulo.
Mr. Chairman, my dear colleagues:
Manny Piñol is born of the soil, from a hardyclan of settlers, who battled disease and pestilence to carve farms out of frontier fastness.
The crops and liverstock he had grown since he was a young bouy are as varied as his resume.
He taps rubber, grows sugar cane, plants rice, corn, banana, and even non-edible ones like mahogany trees. He does not sing bahay Kubo. He plantd every vegetable in that ditty.
He is an expert in raising animals for food. His famous goat are sought after for their meat and milk - and uric acid by citizens of Papaitan Republic.
Which brings me to his greatest asset as a DA Secretary. He has always been a farmer who at times in his storiesmd life was only forced, by circumstances or by the citizenry, to moonlight as a journalist, and even as a governor.
The legend is that he was actually born a mestizo, and only got his perpetualtan from farmng.
With this farmer at the helm, the DA the Kagawaran ng Pansakahan, will truly become a Departamento ng nga Magsasaka.
But more than confirming his appointment, let us support his program, the DA programs, in a manner that would truly make an impact, meaning budgetary and policy support.
Especially policy support because agriculture is under siege by theorist who believe that it would be better for other nations to feed us, enamored as they are by the thought that because a rose smells better thab camote leaves, it would make a better soup.
I vote to confirm the appointment of Emmanuel Pinol the gentleman-farmer from M'lang, North Cotabato as Secretary of Agriculture.
(File photo of Sen. Recto downloaded from Rappler.)