Rechannel intel budget for Taal disaster response and rehab efforts

Make gov’t fund available to eruption victims
Rechannel intel budget for Taal disaster response and rehab efforts

Peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) urges the rechanneling of intelligence funds for the benefit of Taal volcanic eruption victims, especially farmers and fisherfolks.

Initial assessment by the Department of Agriculture (DA) reveals at least Php74.55 million worth of damages in agriculture. The eruption has affected at least 752 hectares of agricultural lands in Batangas, almost entirely coffee farms. Damages also include hundreds of livestock and other animals, and 6,000 fish cages. Various photos in social media also reveal hectares of fruit and vegetable crops irrecoverably covered in volcanic ash.

Danilo Ramos says that “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.” He lambasts DA’s offer of “measly loans” for affected farmers as “mere alms or palimos meant to just save face.”

Ramos points out that interior and local government secretary Eduardo Ano’s appeal to private citizens for donations is an “admission of the insufficiency of government supplies and funds, and reveals his shameless lack of sense of responsibility.” Ramos insists that “Ano need not look further for funds as Duterte’s office itself has a whopping Php4.5 billion confidential and intel funds, making use of just a fraction of this can quickly achieve a lot in terms of providing urgently needed food and water supplies, shelter, and other vital needs.”

There is a total of Php8.17-billion ‘secret’ confidential and intelligence funds which are exempted from government audit under the approved 2020 budget. Ramos comments that these funds are questionable and inefficient anyway as repeated reports of wrong intel reaching the president himself prevailed in the past.

At the same time, KMP joins calls for unity and the gathering of all possible assistance for Taal victims. Ramos shares that “Sagip Kanayunan,” 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. ###

(Featured image from Bulatlat)

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