Estrada to Launch First Model Farms Today in Quezon; to Plant Coco Seedlings, Meet Farmers

Article excerpt

President Joseph Estrada will fly to Quezon province today to launch the first of a series of model farms designed to increase the incomes and uplift the lives of poor coconut farmers in that province, Malacanang announced yesterday.

Quezon Gov. Wilfrido Enverga also said that the President will launch the First Maunlad Model Farm in Barangay Ayusan Dos, Tiaong, Quezon, lead in the ceremonial planting of hybrid coconut seedlings, and disperse "tilapia" fingerlings in the model farm.

The Chief Executive is scheduled to be joined in this out-of-town sortie by Agriculture Secretary Edgardo Angara, Public Works and Highways Secretary Gregorio Vigilar, Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Chairman Ed Escueta, and Presidential Chief of Staff Prof. Aprodicio Laquian.

Today's visit comes less than a week after the President promised coconut farmers in an assembly in Davao City that he will help improve their standards of living through his administration's agricultural modernization program.

Establishing model farms, the President said, is one of the programs the government is undertaking to help coconut farmers increase their incomes.

Estrada's hectic schedule will start with a visit to the First Maunlad Farm in barangay Ayusan Dos in Tiaong, Quezon.

He will lead the unveiling of the model farm and inaugurate the Maunlad Training Center, after which he will lead the ceremonial planting of hybrid coconut seedlings.

Estrada will then commission the Maunlad Irrigation System and disperse tilapia fingerlings before visiting the Philippine Coconut Authority's coconut tree nursery.

The President is also scheduled to meet with local farmers before returning to Manila.

Among the officials who will welcome the President are Enverga, Tiaong Mayor Merlina Escueta, Quezon Reps. Marcial Punzalan Jr., Danilo Suarez, Rafael Nantes and Wigberto Tanada.

Complaints

President Joseph Estrada ordered the Department of Health (DOH) over the weekend to act on complaints from residents in far-flung areas about their lack of access to medicines and health care.

The President assured the residents that he has not forgotten his commitment to make health services accessible to all Filipinos, particularly the poor.

"Hayaan ninyo po at tatawagan natin ang ating Secretary of Health, si Secretary Romualdez, upang bigyan ng kasagutan ang inyong suliranin sa Mindoro (Allow me to get in touch with our Health Secretary, Alberto Romualdez Jr., to address your problem)," he said.

Estrada issued a similar directive to provincial officials and told them to coordinate with the DOH in carrying out his instructions.

"Aatasan ko ang local official sa inyong lugar na magpadala ng written request para malaman dito sa DOH kung ano ang inyong pangangailangan sa inyong bayan (I will order local officials to provide the DOH a written request so we will know what medicines you specifically need)," he said.

He lamented that in some far-flung areas, people cannot avail of health services either because there are no facilities or because they cannot afford it.

Last month, the President received a request from a resident of Mindoro to bring health services to her areas.

The resident, who aired her appeal on the President's weekly radio program, said many Mindoro areas lack medical services.

For his part, Romualdez said the DOH is ready to do its share now that it has the cooperation of Congress and the pharmaceutical industry which will allow the DOH to steadily procure medicines for distribution to the provinces.

Toll fees

President Joseph Estrada directed the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to immediately stop the collection of illegal toll fees and charges in the transport of agricultural and fisheries products in Mindanao. …