Solon urges the national government to release calamity funds for Bicol region

A lawmaker has urged President Benigno Aquino III to order the release
of calamity funds in areas of the Bicol region which were badly hit by
typhoons and which were declared under a state of calamity by the
National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC).

In House Resolution 1741, Rep. Salvio Fortuno (5th District, Camarines
Sur ) also asked government to establish a national crop insurance
system and formulate a master plan to address the flooding in the
Bicol region.

Fortuno, Chairman of the House Special Committee on Bicol Recovery and
Economic Development, said a tail end of a cold front (TECF) in late
December 2010 and at least four destructive typhoons, during the first
seven months of 2011 namely Bebeng, Chedeng, Falcon and Juaning have
caused serious damage to life and property in the Bicol region.

The combined damages of three typhoons amounted to P3.1 billion in
infrastructure and P1.5 billion in agriculture while 93 persons died
and thousands of families were evacuated, Fortuno said.

Fortuno said some 1,230,022 people in 1,267 villages in 137 towns and
10 cities in 23 provinces in CARAGA, Bicol and eastern Visayas were
affected by the typhoons.

“The frequency and severity of weather disturbances are expected to
worsen in the future due to climate change,” Fortuno said.

Fortuno said the affected areas are yet to receive the calamity fund
and additional funding for repair and rehabilitation of damaged
infrastructure in the region.

“In these times of calamities the mitigation efforts being implemented
by regional offices of national government agencies are only
palliative and temporary,” Fortuno said.

Fortuno said farmers need more support in terms of crop insurance to
help them cope with the damaging effects caused by the typhoons on
their crops.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) in the region has already
distributed certified seeds to affected farmers in Albay and Camarines
Sur for their next planting season, according to Fortuno.

“The seeds distribution is only one of the needed minor intervention.
The greater need is for a crop insurance program so farmers can be
compensated in times of calamity,” Fortuno said.

Fortuno said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
has assisted more than one million persons including people whose
homes were partially or totally damaged.

Fortuno lamented that the region has not received calamity fund
despite the repeated requests from the national agencies of the
government.

However, Fortuno said the regional office of the Department of Public
Works and Highways (DPWH) has received P56 million on June 9, 2011 for
infrastructure rehabilitation but not enough to finance the
rehabilitation of many damaged infrastructures.

The resolution was co-authored by Reps. Fernando Gonzales (3rd
District, Albay), Al Francis Bichara (2nd District, Albay), Deogracias
Ramos Jr. (2nd District, Sorsogon), Rodel Batocabe, Christopher Co,
and Alfredo Garbin (Partylist, AKO Bicol).

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