Zamboanga del Sur mayor seeks aid for drought-hit town

Zamboanga del Sur mayor seeks aid for drought-hit town

/ 05:04 AM April 13, 2024

Zambo Sur mayor seeksaid for drought-hit town

NOT A DROP Boulders and rocks are now exposed where water used to flow in this creek at Barangay Upper Lodiong in Tambulig, Zamboanga del Sur. The creek has dried up due to the El Niño phenomenon, making it difficult for farmers to tend to their crops and livestock. —LEAH D. AGONOY

TAMBULIG, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR — Farmer Teogery Colegado of Barangay Upper Lodiong here points to a nearby creek with sadness. Now just a collection of boulders and rocks, the creek used to provide them water to nurture their gardens and livestock.

Colegado recalled that the creek’s water level began to drop in the middle of last year, and completely dried up last month, making it hard for farmers to maintain their crops and farm animals.


READ: Drought damage to Zamboanga rice fields reaches P717,000


The drought had stricken 18 of 31 villages of Tambulig but Mayor Charlotte Dumanjug Panal had no resources to use to respond after the municipal council blocked the use of local calamity funds. This is why the mayor is turning to the national government to provide assistance to the people.

“I appeal to President Marcos, please provide us with immediate relief. Many people are already suffering from the extreme heat,” Panal said.

Panal told the Inquirer that farmers had been telling her about farm and backyard animals being sold cheap as they could not anymore tend to them. “At least they get a little or else they might regret it later if the animals die,” she said.

Traditionally, farmers in the agriculture-dependent town plant from December to January, harvesting their produce from April to May. However, this normal cycle was disrupted by the El Niño weather phenomenon in the middle of last year, “leaving the farmers and their families hungry,” Panal said.

The situation is precarious among families “who live in hand-to-mouth conditions,” she said. “It is them who really need immediate assistance, and there are many of them,” Panal added.

Amid the worsening economic situation, the mayor said they recorded incidents of burglary and theft in upland villages, even victimizing poor households whose rice supply were stolen from their kitchens.


READ: Drought may hit 30 areas in March due to El Niño – Pagasa

A rapid damage assessment and needs analysis (RDANA) prepared by the municipal disaster risk reduction and management council (MDRRMC) showed that some 849 hectares of farmlands tilled by 945 farmers were affected by the severe drought.

According to the MDRRMC, this means that 3,984 of the town’s more than 9,000 families are affected by the El Niño phenomenon, representing more than 40 percent of the local population.

MDRRMC Chief Nilo Muñoz said the assessment covered only the situation from January to March this year, and was confirmed by the leaders of the 18 affected villages.


On the basis of the RDANA report, the MDRRMC passed a resolution on March 27, recommending to the Sangguniang Bayan a declaration of a state of calamity throughout the town due to the impact of the dry spell.

The declaration would have freed up the local government’s quick response fund to address the worsening condition of the people and their communities.

Panal said the proposed calamity declaration was not taken up during the April 1 regular session of the municipal council as they did not have a quorum. During the April 8 session, the matter was referred to a committee so it could conduct its own evaluation of the situation, Panal added.

The Office of the Vice Mayor has not responded to repeated requests by the Inquirer for an interview.

Panal also called for help from the Zamboanga del Sur provincial government.

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Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Divina Grace Yu told the Inquirer that she was working for the provision of humanitarian relief to drought-affected families in her district, not just for Tambulig.

TAGS: drought, Zamboanga del Sur

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