Press Release
October 21, 2016

Zubiri calls for sustained food aid and weather-triggered
insurance for victims

Sen. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri called for the sustained release of food, farm inputs like seeds, implements, machines and financial grants to victims of Typhoon Karen and SuperTyphoon Lawin. He also called on the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Department of Agriculture (DA) to adopt weather-triggered insurance.

"Victims need food and non-food aid. Food aid must be for a long enough time to tide them over this cropping cycle and up to the next. Many farmers can only plant when the weather is right for their land preparation, repair of irrigation canals, replacement of farm equipments and farm animals and many more important tasks."

Zubiri warned that "food aid cannot stop abruptly. Too little food aid will mean we leave them to hang or drown in hunger. Late and incomplete delivery also mean hunger for hundreds of thousands of families including children and the elderly. "

Zubiri noted that farms, homes and infrastructure "were flattened with a ferocity unknown to many areas as ST Lawin reached Signal No. 5". Per National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reports, the Department of Agriculture estimated that Typhooon Karen caused P3 Billion in damages on 260,000 hectares of farms of 86,261 farmers in Ilocos, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Central Luzon, CALABARZON and Bicol. Estimates of the cost of destruction from ST Lawin have not yet been released but CAR, Regions I, II, and III have suffered heavy damage. Affected communities cover 404 towns with 2,083,856 families or 9,550,856 million persons of which 612,160 families or 3,097,593 persons had to be evacuated.

"Farmers, livestock growers, micro- and small entrepreneurs would pile up debts, as they try to replant, rebuild and at the same time feed their families. I am pushing for timely, sufficient and sustainable food aid long after the disasters are gone from the headlines. We can't view this as a dole out. Instead, let's view this as provisioning for fellow countrymen most of who produce our food."

Zubiri called for the "adoption of weather-triggered insurance scheme. In this scheme, farmers and fisherfolk will be spared the difficulty of filing for claims with the PCIC. We have seen that after a typhoon, communication and transportation systems are down, making it hard if not impossible to file a crop insurance claim. In the weather-triggered insurance scheme, the insurance office will actually inform the farmer and fishermen in advance before the bad weather event. Even before the typhoon or drought comes, the PCIC will tell farmers and fisherfolks that they are qualified for insurance payments. The weather triggers will be wind speed, precipitation, temperature and other applicable indicators or triggers of bad weather events or cycle."

"This is one of the missing links in disaster-preparedness. Storms and droughts have become fiercer occuring in new patterns and new areas. The PCIC will have to be pro-active and abandon old ways wherein they wait for the farmers and fisherfolks to file a claim. Now they act in advance thus, the victims receive insurance payments earlier.

Zubiri recalled that "scientists in the National Academy of Science and Technology-DOST have seriously studied and recommended the weather-triggered insurance scheme as part of Global Warming and Climate Change mitigation and adaptation strategies."

"We need these progressive disaster preparedness and risk management measures to be in place. As often happens, when the media has stopped reporting on the disaster and damages wrought, many national government agencies slow down on their rehabilitation efforts forgetting that people need specific long-term aid," Zubiri concluded.

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