01/15/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/15/2020 05:14
Author: DA Communications Group | 15 January 2020
President Rodrigo Duterte distributed an initial P160-million worth of agriculture, fishery and livelihood assistance to farmers, fishers and other ruralfolk affected by the Taal Volcano eruption, in simple ceremonies on January 14, 2020 at Batangas City Sports Complex, which serves as one of the evacuation centers.
The President was joined by Senator Christopher 'Bong' Go, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Batangas Hermilando 'Dodo' Mandanas, and other national and local government officials during the dialogue and handover of various assistance.
In his message to evacuees, humanitarian volunteers and local government officials, President Duterte said the immediate normalization of the situation should be the government's priority in times of typhoons and other natural disasters.
'Itong mga kalamidad ay nangyayari po sa buong bayan at kailangan po na may gagawin tayo na tinatawag na maibaba man lang ang kahirapan at ang danger 'pag pumutok ang mga ito,' the President said.
Government interventions and assistance should be swiftly provided to victims and their families, so they can go back to normal life immediately, the President added. He reiterated that all the national government agencies are ready to assist affected citizens.
For his part, Secretary Dar assured farmers and fishers of the Department of Agriculture's (DA) full assistance to help them rise from the ashes, so to speak.
'In view of the Department's efforts to assist farmers and fishers affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano, I have directed the DA family officials and staff to extend full support,' Dar said.
'We want fast and concrete actions during this trying time. I am personally seeing to it that all hands in DA are on board to deliver the services to our farmers and fishers, and the general public that depends on the sustainability of our food supply,' Dar said.
He said respective DA family agencies are crafting a comprehensive rehabilitation plan that includes appropriate measures and interventions for immediate implementation once volcanic activities cease, and thus safe to resume farming and fishing activities.
Dar directed the DA-BFAR Chief Eduardo Gongona to conduct water quality test for sulfur and other toxic materials in the area.
It will also provide reports on the pre- and post-eruption operations in affected areas such as, but not limited to, production, fish cage operations, number of fishers/operators, processing/trading/marketing, possible livelihood assistance.
'BFAR will provide us regular updates on the damage caused by the eruption and recommend measures to recover from the losses. From that, we can determine the volume and possible sources of fingerlings for the rehabilitation of damaged fish cages,' Dar said.
The Agri chief ensured the DA is on the lookout for potential sources of tilapia and tawilis that would supply Metro Manila and other areas.
'Region 3 (Central Luzon) can support at least 20 percent of the 15,000-metric ton requirement of Metro Manila per quarter from ponds in Pampanga, Bulacan, and Bataan. Another 20 percent will become available upon full utilization of the cages in Pantabangan. I am also encouraging the operators in Taal Lake to consider investing in freshwater and brackish water fishponds in Region 3,' Dar added.
BFAR reported that Central Luzon is capable of supplying tilapia to Metro Manila markets with 10 tons per day at P100 per kilo. At the moment, stakeholders have 300 tons fresh chilled tilapia in storage ready for delivery.
The DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (DA-BSWM) has started to conduct chemical analysis of ash and soil test to determine the suitability and sustainability of crops that will be replanted in affected areas currently covered with volcanic ash.
The DA's High Value Crop Development Program and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) is currently assessing damage on coffee, pineapple, jackfruit, banana, and other plants thriving in the area. The DA-BPI will provide planting materials for distribution and rehabilitation.
'We have 5,000 coffee mother plants and 1,000 cacao seedlings ready for disposal at the moment. Upon verification of damages, we will augment the planting materials to accommodate other needs,' said DA-BPI Assistant Director Glenn Panganiban.
The DA-Philippine Coconut Authority, on the other hand, is assessing the damage on coconut trees and will source out funds to replant in totally-damaged areas.
With regards to livestock, Dar specifically directed the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry to monitor and report affected poultry and livestock animals and list of farm-owners who will receive assistance.
'The BAI will coordinate with concerned local government units (LGUs) regarding rescue and herding of affected farm animals to safer ground or temporary holding pens. It will also help identify sources of feed and forage, and logistics needs of recovered animals,' Dar said.
Credit and insurance
The DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) is currently distributing loan assistance amounting to P30M under its SURE Program to benefit 1,200 farmers and fishers through its conduit bank, Rural Bank of Mt. Carmel.
'ACPC Dir. Jocelyn Badiola swiftly acted on the matter, which enabled us to provide immediate loan assistance at zero interest to those affected. The agency is further speeding up its distribution of loans in coordination with our regional offices in the area,' Dar said.
Meanwhile, the DA- Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation will fast-track the release of insurance benefits for quick-turnaround plans and re-insure affected farms.
Other initiatives The DA-Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Operations Center continues to monitor updates on conditions and assistance being extended to affected areas.
It also leads the coordination with DA family offices, agencies, and bureaus, gathering specific concerns that need immediate actions, specifically on fisheries, crops, insurance, loans, and rehabilitation.
Dar also instructed the DRRM to strengthen the Department's disaster management operations protocol on handling agriculture-related emergencies, natural disasters, and calamities.
The DA chief advised the public to tune in for updates from the DA Communications Group and Agri-Fisheries Information Division, that will continuously package and disseminate regular public advisories on status of assistance provided by the DA, in close coordination with DRRM Operations Center through print, broadcast, and social media (DA website, FB, and YouTube), and other platforms. ### (DA Communications Group)
Noel O. Reyes
Spokesperson and Assistant Secretary
for Communications and Media Affairs
CP: (0920) 4889686