Taal affected farmers, fisherfolk need aid, not loans — group

Taken from Agoncillo town, Batangas (Photo courtesy of Bro. CIriaco Santiago III)

Out of the 4.1 trillion recently signed budget, P 16 B was appropriated for National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council or Calamity fund which is 20 percent lower from the P20 B last year.

By JOHN AARON MARK MACARAEG
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — As Taal Volcano continues its ash eruptions and volcanic earthquakes, farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas called on the Philippine government to provide due assistance to affected farmers and fisherfolk in the vicinity.

“Those in affected areas are in desperate need of urgent assistance, especially as farmers still reel from the effects of rice liberalization, chronic government neglect, and climate change,” said Danilo Ramos of KMP.

The Taal began spewing ashes last Sunday, destroying at least P74.55 million in agriculture and affecting at least 752 hectares of lands, mostly coffee farms, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Related story: Taal volcano spews ash, residents evacuate

Agriculture secretary William Dar announced yesterday that farmers and fisherfolk victims may avail of a P25,000-loan with zero interest and payable in three years.

In a released statement, however, Ramos called out the loan as “mere alms or palimos meant to save face.”

Fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, for its part, referred to the loan as “callous.”

Related story: Amid Taal eruption, Bayan Muna pushes for Evacuation Centers Bill

Citing government data, they said the province of Batangas has produced more than 16,400 metric tons of bangus, which is four percent of the country’s total production in 2018.

Thus, the group’s demand for Secretary Dar to “at least temporarily disrobe his neoliberal suit to humanely aid the affected fisherfolk and peasant families” and appeal for the reparation for the loss of potential income.

Redirect intel budget for relief efforts

Interior and Local Government secretary Eduardo Año received backlash from netizens over his statement, appealing to the public to donate drinking water, food and other essentials needed by evacuees.

Ramos called Año’s statement as an “admission of the insufficiency of government supplies and funds, and reveals his shameless lack of sense of responsibility.”

He advised instead for the Duterte administration to make use of the P4.5 billion intel funds of the President’s office to help the Taal victims’ need for food and drinking supplies.
Many have also pointed out in social media the cut in calamity fund under the 2020 approved budget.

Out of the 4.1 trillion recently signed budget, P 16 B was appropriated for National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council or Calamity fund which is 20 percent lower from the P20 B last year.

Critics are only hopeful that the allocated budget and donations would reach peoples needing it and not end up in anyone’s own pocket. ()

“Sagip Kanayunan” is KMP’s initiative to directly provide relief for affected farmers and rural communities. Donations can be dropped off at No. 56 K-9 St. West Kamias, Quezon City.

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