Food supplies to be transported to quake areas, says agriculture chief
MANILA, Philippines—Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Friday that measures were being taken to provide more food supplies to places ravaged by last Monday’s 6.9- magnitude earthquake, and at the same time gave an assurance that there was no shortage of rice in the affected places.
The earthquake, which shook a wide area of the Visayas, particularly the Negros provinces and Cebu, caused landslides and damaged roads that left many barangays in Negros Oriental difficult to reach or inaccessible to relief and rescue personnel.
At least 32 people have been confirmed dead and many more are missing, buried by at least two landslides in Negros Oriental.
Alcala said that as of Wednesday, the available rice in the affected areas was good for 23 days, and the amount could go up taking into account stocks in the hands of farmers and stores.
Alcala noted that some stores have chosen to remain closed following the quake because of concerns that they may be besieged or overwhelmed by buyers.
“There is no problem with rice. The problem we see is some stores have been afraid to open, which was why some people find it difficult to buy it,” he said at a press briefing at the Philippine Information Agency.
Alcala said he has instructed Department of Agriculture personnel to purchase livestock from piggeries and poultry farms and bring these to the slaughterhouse. The meat would be delivered to markets on consignment to ensure there is enough meat for the affected populations.
“We will help them while the situation has not yet normalized,” he said.
Vegetables would also be delivered to the affected areas, he said.
He added that the department could send more patrol boats, if necessary, to deliver more poultry, meat and vegetables.
Alcala said he did not care how the food would be delivered to affected areas as long as it got there.
Amid the reluctance of worried storeowners to open for business, Alcala appealed to people to be more disciplined and emulate the orderly way in which the people of Japan went about their business following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit their country last year.
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