By SHERWIN DE VERA
HEED OUR CALL. The demand for greater government assistance for calamity-stricken areas is among the highlight of the protest in the different provincial centers in the Ilocos provinces during State of the Nation Address, with victims of drought in La Union appealing for rice subsidy at the Provincial Capitol. Photo by Paola Espiritu/Nordis
BAGUIO CITY — Farmers belonging to the Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (Stop Exploitation) are urging the provincial governments to provide more assistance for farmers and fisherfolk hit by Super Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) and drought.
The group forwarded petitions asking for not less than three sacks of rice, and livelihood assistance for each family affected by the calamities that successively ravaged Ilocos in 2018 and this year.
“Basar iti panangadalmi, diay tallo a kaban ti bagas ket umananay a pangalayay ti pamilyami a mannalon ken kadagiti mangngalap bayat ti panagrekobermi. Pirmi ngamin nga agkurkurang ti naipaay a relief kanyami, adda pay dagiti awan naawatda (Based on our study, three sacks are sufficient to support the family while we recover. The relief provided to us were scant, some did not even receive anything),” Antonino Pugyao, chairperson of Sop Exploitation said.
He also said that despite the billions of funds received by the government from other institutions for the rehabilitation, people in Ompong-hit areas continue to struggle to recover.
The group submitted their petition to the La Union Provincial Government on July 22, as part of their State of the Nation Address protest. However, they failed to talk to Governor Francisco Ortega III. Instead, the governor’s mother received their petition and promised to bring their concern to her son.
RICE FOR OUR TABLES. Protesters in Ilocos Sur, who held a program at the Vigan City Public Market, urged the provincial government to provide rice subsidies for farmers who are still recovering from the damages brought by Supertyphoon Ompong and the dry spell that struck the province. Photo by Paola Espiritu/Nordis
According to Pugyao, they forwarded the same petition to the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur last April 12.
Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Singson explained that the province has no program on rice subsidy. He said that he has already scheduled dialogue with the group concerning issues involving the military but will also take into account their other concerns in the meeting.
The governor also clarified that no complain reached his office regarding the drought in the province but will consider possible measures if the group will raise it.
“Kitaenminto no kasano daytdiay, mabalin siguro nga idamag iti nasyunal (We will look how to respond to that need, maybe we can refer it to the national [government]),” Singson said.
Typhoon Ompong struck the region in September last year when rice crops were at their critical stage disrupting the development of their panicles. In Ilocos Sur alone, the agriculture office recorded about 30,000 hectares of the more than 43,000 hectares of rice farms were producing their panicle, with close to P1.5 billion damage to agriculture.
DOUBLE WHAMMY. Farmers in Ilocos Norte, one of the country’s top palay (umilled rice) producers, consider the implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law as another calamity barely a year after Ompong destroyed most of their rice crops. Photo by Paola Espiritu
Up in Ilocos Norte, the storm destroyed more than 48,000 hectares of rice crops according to the provincial government. Combined damage to crops, livestock, and poultry in La Union reached P934.92 million.
Post-calamity reports from the provinces cited that farmers failed to harvest sufficient volumes and quality crops due to the typhoon.
In March, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa) identified Ilocos Norte as among those already suffering from the El Niño-driven drought. It also included the Ilocos Sur and La Union that may experience reduced rainfall. # – with Paola Espiritu