Press Release
September 15, 2018


Government should rush Calamity Funds to typhoon-damaged Cagayan Valley as the region, which ranks first in corn production and second in palay, is the cereal bowl that feeds the nation, Sen. Grace Poe urged.

Poe said ensuring that the region will be able to replant, rebuild and restore its farm output and facilities must be treated as a "national food security priority."

One-fourth of the corn we produce, and one-seventh of the national palay we harvest come from the Cagayan Valley, Poe said.

"Kaya 'yang si Ompong, para talaga tayong sinuntok sa sikmura," she said referring to the typhoon which has been recorded as 2018's strongest so far.

Poe said portion of P19.6 billion Calamity Fund, officially called the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund in the 2018 national budget, should also be released immediately to the other two regions pummelled by Ompong-Cordillera and Ilocos.

"Hindi lang cereal bowl ang tinamaan ni Ompong, pati 'yung salad bowl natin nahagip din," Poe said, referring to the Cordillera Autonomous Region which is the principal supplier of vegetables to Mega Manila.

"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," Poe said.

"If Cagayan, Ilocos and Cordillera do not plant, the nation goes hungry," Poe said.

She added that a rehabilitation of the farms, including farm infrastructure like roads and irrigation, in the three Northern Luzon regions is needed as it comes at a time when prices of food are rising "and we don't want this calamity to further worsen the situation."

In addition to the P19.6 billion NDRRMC fund, government should also tap some P7.6 billion disaster Quick Response Fund (QRF) which are distributed to 10 agencies.

"These funds are already parked with the agencies, and some should have been predeployed to regions," Poe said.

"'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," Poe said.

Other QRF recipients are DSWD-OSEC (P1.25 B), DND-OCD (P500 M), DND-AFP (P750 M), DOH (P500 M) and NEA (P100 M).

"Para masiguro na ang tulong ay kasing bilis ng bagyo, dapat magkaroon ng one-stop shop processing and approval center sa Cagayan Valley mismo for all Calamity Fund requests, para 'di na kailangang lumuwas ang mga LGU, na busy sa relief operations, sa Manila," Poe said.

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