Marcos distributes aid to El Niño-hit farmers in southc

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos distributes aid to El Niño-hit farmers in southc
Speaker Martin Romualdez, assisted by Tawi-Tawi Rep. Dimszar Sali, leads the distribution of assistance under the Cash and Rice Distribu- tion or CARD program to 5,000 beneficiaries in Tawi-Tawi yesterday.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos was in Tawi-Tawi and Maguindanao del Sur yesterday to distribute aid to farmers and fisherfolk as part of his visits to provinces hardest hit by the El Niño phenomenon, which has so far left 374 areas in the country under a state of calamity.

In Bongao, Marcos provided more than P20 million in financial aid to sectors affected by El Niño in the provinces of Tawi-Tawi and Basilan. He turned over P10 million in check to Tawi-Tawi Gov. Yshmael Sali and Basilan Gov. Hadjiman Salliman-Hataman while farmers and fishermen were given P10,000 each.

More than P30 million in cash assistance was given to farmers and fishermen from Maguindanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur during the President’s visit to Datu Abdullah Sangki.

Marcos handed over P10 million in financial aid each to Maguindanao del Sur Gov. Bai Mariam Mangudadatu, Maguindanao del Norte Gov. Abdulraof Macacua and Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Alonto Adiong Jr.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development also gave P10,000 each to affected farmers and fisherfolk from the three provinces.

Task Force El Niño spokesman and Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Joey Villarama said the 374 cities and municipalities under state of calamity, include the entire Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

He said the amount of damage to agriculture has increased to P9.5 billion while the affected farmlands have reached 163,000 hectares or equivalent to 25 percent of the worst El Niño experienced in 1997.

“Because we are now in the tail-end of El Niño, we, especially the Department of Agriculture, expect that the subsequent increases in the data will not be that much,” Villarama told state-run People’s Television.

“Hopefully, because there were rains in the past week, the heat will subside, we can start the rehabilitation of agricultural lands and prepare for the coming rainy season and La Niña,” he added.

During his visit to Tawi-Tawi and Maguindanao del Sur, Marcos assured local residents of continuous assistance and vowed to carry out more projects that would preserve peace and stability.

“I am happy with the peace you are enjoying right now. To strengthen it, I am happy to report that the government is undertaking projects for your development, such as the Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project that we launched last year,” the President said in Tawi-Tawi.

In his speech in Maguindanao del Sur, Marcos asked state agencies to ensure that the government’s assistance and services would reach the people.

“The history of conflict has left a mark in this beautiful land that continues to affect your daily life. But I know we will overcome it. I assure you that the safety of our people will remain a priority of my administration,” the Chief Executive said.

“As we continue to address the roots of the conflict, we will achieve true peace and understanding in our community. So I urge everyone to unite and to take this opportunity to work with the government,” he added.

The Presidential Communications Office said the government has also provided a total of P478.85 million to other Mindanao provinces that felt the impact of El Niño, namely Zamboanga, Sultan Kudarat, General Santos, Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro.

While the country is still grappling with the effects of El Niño, Marcos directed national government agencies to work closely with local governments to prepare for La Niña.

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