Co-op says Batanes food shortage not frighteningBy Juliet Cataluña
Inquirer Northern Luzon
Concerned about supply problems affecting the capital town of Basco, Bishop Camilo Gregorio of the Prelature of Batanes had appealed for help over the Catholic Church-run Radio Veritas because of reports that supply ships have not sailed to the islands due to bad weather.
A series of storms and the prevailing monsoon season have kept most of Luzon drenched for weeks, including Metro Manila.
Batanes residents were also told to expect the worst on Saturday due to a typhoon hovering over extreme northern Luzon, but they woke up to warm weather.
For weeks, the province has been experiencing good weather. The most recent strong storm that struck the country’s northernmost islands took place in July.
Shortages in sugar, commercial rice and gasoline were due to shipping problems, which the Batanes Multipurpose Cooperative had since resolved, according to the cooperative chair, Charles Ibanez. The cooperative takes charge of fuel and grocery shipments to Batanes.
The shortages won’t lead to starvation because the province produces enough upland rice and vegetables, officials said. “No Ivatan will ever starve,” said Jordan Camarillas, a 44-year-old Basco farmer, who reported that the farming community has been harvesting new rice stocks to add to cereal they have stored from the previous harvest.
Ibanez said the cargo ships, which replenish grocery items, are due to dock here on Sunday or Monday. Shipments come in twice or three times each month. In good weather, it takes three days for a ship to sail from Manila to Batanes.
The local power utility has cut down the daily power supply to four hours since last month to conserve fuel.
But this is also because of shipping problems, the Inquirer was told. Fuel has to be delivered to Batanes from Manila by an accredited tanker, but the Batanes cooperative had to get a new shipping firm after the previous company ended its contract in July.