August 21, 2016

MANILA – With the recent southwest monsoon or habagat causing P280.9 million worth of damage in crops, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Sunday sought help for the affected farmers, particularly in the immediate release of calamity assistance, crop insurance, and climate-resilient seeds.

habagat agri

“Agaran dapat ang pag-release ng calamity assistance para makapagtanim muli ang ating mga magsasaka. Pag nagtanim sila sa mas lalong madaling panahon, mas mabilis silang makakatayo sa sariling paa at makaka-recover. Ang agarang ayuda ay mangangahulugan ng mas mabilis na pagbangon muli (We call for the immediate release of calamity assistance so our farmers can plant again. The sooner they are able to plant, the quicker they will be able to get back on their feet and bounce back and recover. Immediate assistance will mean quicker recovery),” said Pangilinan, who is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

Pangilinan cited figures from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), and noted that agriculture bore the brunt of damages at P280,877,989.38, or 98.9 percent of total P283,993,989.38 worth of damages. The rest was to infrastructure.

In its August 20, 2016 situation report, NDRRMC said a total of P14,246,030.42 worth of relief assistance has been provided the affected families in Regions 1 (Ilocos Region), 3 (Central Luzon), Negros Island Region, National Capital Region, and Cordillera Autonomous Region.

“Yan ay 5 porsyento lang ng pinsala. Yan ay napakaliit (That is only 5 percent of the damage. That is too little),” Pangilinan said.

The senator said the crop insurance system in the Philippines should be fixed so that more farmers are covered, and affected farmers are correctly identified.

“Dapat na ring i-release ng mga scientists sa International Rice Research Institute ang mga climate-resilient seeds na naimbento nila (Scientists at the International Rice Research Institute can also roll out the climate-resilient seeds they have developed),” Pangilinan added.

According to the same NDRRMC report, the habagat since August 8 caused damage in Regions 1 (Ilocos Region), 3 (Central Luzon), Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), and National Capital Region (NCR).

“Marami sa ating nasa Maynila ang naperwisyo ng habagat. Binaha tayo. Walang pasok ang mga bata. Nagkakasakit tayo. Pero para sa ating mga magsasaka sa hilaga ng Maynila, kabuhayan ang nawala (Many of us here in Manila were inconvenienced by the southwest monsoon. Our streets were flooded. Classes were suspended for the children. Many of us got sick. But our farmers north of Manila, they lost their livelihood),” said Pangilinan.

The same NDRRMC report said the recent habagat resulted in 19 deaths, 12 injuries, and seven missing persons in Regions 3 (Central Luzon), Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon), Mimaropa (Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan), National Capital Region, and 6 (Western Visayas).

“Alam po natin ang paghihirap na dinaranas ng ating magsasaka tuwing nasasalanta ng mga sakuna. Madalas hindi na sila makaahon pagkatapos masalanta, nababaon sila sa utang sa mga usurero. Kailangang mas maayos ang ating crop insurance para sa mga magsasaka, na pinakamahirap sa ating lipunan bagamat sila ang nagpapakain sa atin (We know the hardships that our farmers suffer every time there’s a disaster. They usually cannot recover after a disaster, deep in debt to loan sharks. We should fix our crop insurance for our farmers, who are among the poorest in our society despite feeding us),” Pangilinan said.

The government must also prepare for La Nina, which according to the state-run weather bureau PAGASA will be experienced in the country in a mild form starting September, he said.

La Nina, which is characterized by more rains, causes flooding in low-lying agricultural lands, extensive damage to standing crops, increase in pest and disease, and coastal erosion due to strong waves and coastal flooding, among others.