Poe seeks quick release of calamity fund to affected food-producing regions
Senator Grace Poe has asked government to speed up the release of calamity funds for typhoon-hit Cagayan Valley, to ensure that the region can “replant, rebuild, and restore its farm output and facilities.”
“One-fourth of the corn we produce, and one-seventh of the national palay we harvest come from the Cagayan Valley,” Poe said in a statement on Saturday, reminding that the area ranks first in production of corn and second in palay.
The senator also emphasized that aside from the Cagayan Valley, typhoon “Ompong” also affected the Ilocos region and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), which supplies vegetables to other parts of Luzon including Manila.
“Hindi lang cereal bowl ang tinamaan ni ‘Ompong,’ pati ‘yung salad bowl natin nahagip din,” Poe noted.
“Kaya ‘yang si ‘Ompong,’ para talaga tayong sinuntok sa sikmura,” she added.
“Ompong” made landfall around 1:00 a.m of Saturday in Cagayan. Government officials predict Cagayan and Isabela as the provinces most affected by the weather disturbance, although there is no exact estimates of damages as of now.
According to Poe, portions of the P19.6 billion National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund in the 2018 national budget should be allocated to the affected regions
“If you combine the agricultural area of the three regions which is about 835,012 hectares, then you are talking about a substantial area critical to our food supply, and which gives livelihood to millions of farmers,” she explained
“If Cagayan, Ilocos and Cordillera do not plant, the nation goes hungry,” she added.
She also mentioned that government offices and agencies can also utilize P7.6 billion disaster Quick Response Fund (QRF).
“These funds are already parked with the agencies, and some should have been predeployed to regions,” Poe said.
“‘Yung DA merong P1 billion in QRF, ‘yung NIA merong P500 million. Ito ‘yung puwede sa replanting assistance and repair of irrigation. ‘Yung DPWH, merong P1 billion. Dito naman puwedeng kunin ‘yung para sa mga tulay at daan na nasira. ‘Yung sa schools naman, kunin sa P2 billion QRF ng DepEd,” Poe added.
She also asked that government set-up one-stop shops to process calamity fund requests in Cagayan and other areas.
“Para masiguro na ang tulong ay kasing bilis ng bagyo, dapat magkaroon ng one-stop shop processing and approval center sa Cagayan Valley mismo for all Calamity Fund requests, para ‘di na kailangang lumuwas ang mga LGU, na busy sa relief operations, sa Manila,” she added. /jpv
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