Photo File From THEPHILBIZNEWS
In order to provide immediate help to the regions affected by Typhoon Ompong, Senator Grace Poe urged the government to speed up the release of calamity funds to ensure that the effected regions can “replant, rebuild, and restore its farm output and facilities.”
In a statement released, Poe said, “One-fourth of the corn we produce, and one-seventh of the national palay we harvest come from the Cagayan Valley.”
The Cagayan Valley region is dubbed as Philippines’ rice granary and Poe reminding that the area ranks first in production of corn and second in palay.
The senator also said that aside from the Cagayan Valley, typhoon “Ompong” also has created damage to the Ilocos region and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), which supplies vegetables to other parts of Luzon including Manila.
“Hindi lang cereal bowl ang tinamaan ni ‘Ompong,’ pati ‘yung salad bowl natin nahagip din,” Poe noted. Yung ginawa ni Ompong, para talaga tayong sinuntok sa sikmura,” she added.
“Ompong” made landfall around 1:00 a.m of Saturday in Cagayan. Government officials predict Cagayan and Isabela as the provinces most affected by the weather disturbance, but as of this posting, there is no exact estimates of damages as of now.
According to Senator Poe, portions of the P19.6 billion National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund in the 2018 national budget should be allocated to the affected regions
She explained by saying, “If you combine the agricultural area of the three regions which is about 835,012 hectares, then you are talking about a substantial area critical to our food supply, and which gives livelihood to millions of farmers. Therefore, if Cagayan, Ilocos and Cordillera do not plant, the nation goes hungry,” she added.
She also mentioned the that government offices and agencies can also utilize P7.6 billion disaster Quick Response Fund (QRF).
“These funds are already parked with the agencies, and some should have been predeployed to regions,” Poe said. The Senator added, “Yung DA merong P1 billion in QRF, ‘yung NIA merong P500 million. Ito ‘yung puwede sa replanting assistance and repair of irrigation. ‘Yung DPWH, merong P1 billion. Dito naman puwedeng kunin ‘yung para sa mga tulay at daan na nasira. ‘Yung sa schools naman, kunin sa P2 billion QRF ng DepEd.”
She also suggested that government should set-up one-stop shops to process calamity fund requests in Cagayan and other areas to ensure that the processing of calamity fund requests is easier and that the LGU doesn not have to go to Manila to process since everyone is busy in the relief operation.