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Cash, food aid sought for Typhoon Lawin victims

Residents wait for a boat to cross Penablanca in Cagayan yesterday after a bridge linking Barangays Cabu and Cabasan collapsed at the height of Typhoon Lawin. EDD GUMBAN                                          

MANILA, Philippines - Senators yesterday called for immediate budgetary assistance and food aid to farmers and other victims of Super Typhoon Lawin.

Sen. Francisco Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, asked Malacañang and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release a supplemental budget so the National Food Authority (NFA) can buy storm-damaged rice from the Lawin-affected farmers to ease their livelihood concerns.

“We must help our farmers because it’s harvest season. Some were able to harvest before (Typhoons) Karen and Lawin but we received reports that wet palay is bought at only P10 per kilo when the cost is P12 per kilo,” Pangilinan said in a statement.

He, however, said the NFA cannot buy the wet palay using only its budget as it is not enough to buy five percent of regular dry palay.

The Situation Report No. 4 of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) issued Friday said damage to agriculture in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is estimated at P26.16 million: P17.192 million in rice, P2.16 million in corn and P6.809 million in high-value crops.

Kalinga suffered the biggest loss at P10.8 million, mostly in rice; followed by Benguet at P5.5 million in high-value crops and Abra at P5.34 million in rice. 

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As the affected regions are still experiencing rain, the Department of Agriculture can help support the farmers by distributing palay seeds to those affected so that they can plant immediately and hopefully harvest by January and February, Pangilinan suggested.

For his part, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri called for the sustained release of food, farm inputs like seeds, implements, machines and financial grants to victims of Karen and Lawin.

He also called on the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp., and the Departments of Science and Technology and Agriculture to adopt weather-triggered insurance.

“Victims need food and non-food aid. Food aid must be for a long enough time to tide them over this cropping cycle and up to the next. Many farmers can only plant when the weather is right for their land preparation, repair of irrigation canals, replacement of farm equipment and farm animals and many more important tasks,” he said.

The senator called for the adoption of weather-triggered insurance scheme, where farmers and fisherfolk will be spared the difficulty of filing for claims with the PCIC.

He said after a typhoon, communication and transportation systems are down, making it hard if not impossible to file a crop insurance claim.

In the weather-triggered insurance scheme, the insurance office will inform the farmer and fishermen ahead of the inclement weather.

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