Senator Cynthia Villar calls Agriculture Dept “crazy” for doing “too much research”

Don’t Filipino politicians just say the darnedest things? In this week’s episode of “Politicians Say Whuttt?” (not an actual show–yet), Senator Cynthia Villar drew netizens’s ire by criticizing the Agriculture Department for engaging in “too much research.”

While reviewing the department’s budget during a Senate hearing yesterday, Villar was so irked that she asked in Filipino, “Why does it seem like all your budget goes into research? You’re crazy over research. What will you do with this research?”

“I’m a smart person” — she continued, before immediately appearing to contradict herself — “but I don’t understand your research. How will this benefit farmers? Does a farmer like research? They want you to help them. Why is everything [about] research?”

Under the National Corn Program’s proposed 2020 budget, PHP150 million (US$2.9 million) will be allocated to research, while PHP265 million (US$5 million) will be set aside for calamity assistance, which Villar also apparently believes to be a waste of money.

“PHP265 million and PHP150 million; imagine, that’s PHP400 million (US$7.7 million) already,” Villar fumed, adding that if she were a farmer — which she is not, her academic background is in business — she would prefer to receive seeds and machinery instead.

National Coordinator Lorenzo Carangan was forced to helpfully point out that, ahem, under the proposed budget, the department already does give out “seeds and fertilizers.”

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), meanwhile, made a pretty good clapback today, posting a photo of Dr. Ricardo Lantican, a scientist whose crop research — ya hear that? research — helped “save the world from a massive corn crisis.”

Obviously throwing shade at Villar, the department added, “That’s the value of research.”

Over on Twitter, meanwhile, people weren’t so subtle. Several tweets called Villar out for not knowing the importance of research, while many just called her by several unsavory names.

User @michaeljimenez basically summed up the week by situating Villar — along with Salvador Panelo and Celine Pialago, two other government figures who recently put their foot in their mouths — as part of a “Privileged and Dumb Bitch Trinity.”

But Twitter user @invisible_andie offered an interesting counterpoint to the anti-Villar vitriol, noting that “so much money is corrupted in the guise of ‘research’ #justsaying.”

Fair point, Invisible Andie — but that doesn’t make Villar’s comments any less ignorant.


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