Suicide linked to drought
COTABATO CITY—The suicide of a 37-year-old farmer here is being linked to his failure to overcome depression blamed on the continuing effects of a dry spell that has killed his crops and all but assured the starvation of his family in the town of South Upi, Maguindanao province.
Jimmy Tamberya, of the village of Kigan, has been suffering from depression after his land became one of hundreds in the province that had dried up as a result of severe dry conditions brought by the El Niño phenomenon.
Chief Insp. Roel Villarin, South Upi police chief, said in a phone interview that Tamberya had refused to eat when the dry spell started to kill his crops.
Villarin quoted members of Tamberya’s family as saying that the farmer had been so worried about where to look for food for his family as his crops had all died.
Tamberya, according to Villarin, also tried to borrow money from neighbors, but his neighbors were in the same boat as Tamberya, who has one child.
On Thursday, Tamberya’s wife, who was not identified by Villarin, went to the town proper in search for someone who would lend the family money. She went home empty-handed.
Upon the return of Tamberya’s wife home, “she found her husband dead,” said Villarin. “He hanged himself,” said the police chief.
Lito Bansigan, councilor of South Upi, said based on stories he heard about Tamberya, the farmer apparently got so depressed and felt so helpless over the prospect of his family starving.
“He was so stressed and had possibly thought his problem had no solution,” said Bansigan.
“That’s why he committed suicide,” the councilor added. Had Tamberya waited for assistance, he would have been alive, said Bansigan.
Bansigan said the Maguindanao provincial government and some nongovernment organizations have already started providing assistance to areas hit by the drought. South Upi is on the list of areas that would receive the help, he said.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said he was saddened by the news about the suicide of the farmer and added he had instructed relief officials to speed up the delivery of essential aid to areas suffering from the drought.
Mangudadatu acknowledged that the first casualties of the drought are farmers, who rely on rice and corn planting as main sources of income.
He said in the month of January alone, the value of crops that were lost to the drought had already been estimated at P120 million.
To date, more than 10,000 farmers in Maguindanao’s 36 municipalities had already reported heavy crop losses due to the drought, which is projected to last until April or May. Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao
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