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Communities under lockdown find ways to ease hunger amid delayed supplies

/ 05:08 AM March 26, 2020
La Trinidad, Benguet,

FOOD HUB The vegetable trading post in La Trinidad, Benguet, serves as the main trading center for agricultural products from the Cordillera that are being shipped to other parts of the country. —EV ESPIRITU

CITY OF ILAGAN—About 100 people in this provincial capital of Isabela broke quarantine rules to gather clams at the Cagayan and Pinacanauan rivers on Wednesday.

“We were forced to look for food,” said Boy Bartolome, 60, a tricycle driver who joined the gatherers. Many of them have yet to receive food packs from the government, he added.

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Bartolome and his family were forced to stay home due to the Luzon lockdown imposed last week to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Maryann Salinas, a clam gatherer, said some of them planned to sell their harvest to neighbors. A small container of clams sells for P20 while a sack can be sold for P400.

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‘Better than stealing’

“This is better than stealing food once we have no more to eat,” she said.

In Zambales province, Ernesto Fontillas, 64, said he had nothing to eat at home so he went out to sell coconuts to earn a living.

In Benguet province, the main trading area for vegetables bound for Metro Manila has been partially closed for disinfection to prevent farmers and traders from getting exposed to COVID-19.

Starting Friday, La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post will have limited operations. Some of the transactions between farmers and food truckers will be transferred to the much bigger Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center in the town, said La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda.

Vegetable farmers in the province are the main supplier of carrots, cabbages, lettuce, cauliflower and beans for Metro Manila markets.

But the trading post is “a beehive of activity where traders, disposers, drivers and helpers meet in mass, and come and go even from areas where there are positive cases of COVID-19,” Salda said. —REPORTS FROM KIMBERLIE QUITASOL, VILLAMOR VISAYA JR. AND JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT

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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: COVID-19, Isabela food supply, Luzon quarantine
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