Farmers initiate “Tabang Bicol” relief and rehabilitation drive for Typhoon Rolly disaster victims

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and its relief and rehabilitation machinery Sagip Kanayunan together with Tulong Anakpawis, initiated the Tabang Bicol relief and rehabilitation drive. Overall, agriculture and coastal towns are the hardest-hit of super typhoon Rolly, with millions of farmers, fisherfolk, and rural people affected and without livelihood. 

“The Tabang Bicol urgent relief and rehab drive aims to help farmers and fisherfolk disaster victims who lost their homes and livelihood to the super typhoon,” according to KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.

Ramos added: “QuintaPH resulted in P2.1-billion damages in agriculture. As of November 3, RollyPH reportedly caused an additional damage of P1.75-billion in agriculture and fisheries. Thousands of hectares of rice and corn paddies and vegetable crops were deluged in flood, coconut and other trees fell, and farm animals drowned. It will take several months and even years before farmers and fisherfolk can recover. We are seeking all the help we can get for our farmers and fisherfolk.”

KMP is seeking urgent donations and support to aid farmers in need of immediate relief — rice, food, relief packs, hygiene kits, drinking water, clothes, sleeping kits, and medicines. A more long-term rehabilitation effort is also necessary as farmers and fisherfolk will need seeds and seedlings, farm tools, farm animals, bancas and fishing equipment, and production subsidies from the government.

Over the weekend, storm surges inundated coastal towns, swelling and flooded rivers overflowed, and heavy rainfall triggered volcanic mudflows especially in towns around the Mt. Mayon in Albay province.

As of November 3, authorities reported at least 20 deaths in the hard-hit provinces of Albay and Catanduanes, as most of the victims died due to drowning. A father and son were trapped by the mudflow, while another villager was pinned by a fallen tree. Several villagers remain missing and believed to be buried alive as lahar and forest debris engulfed an estimate of 300 houses in Barangay Travesia in Guinobatan, Albay. Guinobatan residents point to quarrying as the cause of the flash floods that inundated several villages.

Flash floods and heavy mudflow from Mt. Mayon destroyed everything on its path including houses, trees, farms, and livestock. The torrential rainfall also resulted in flooding, landslides, and storm surges. The entire Bicol region experiences massive power outages, and as of writing, provinces are without electricity and stable communication lines.

According to KMP, Filipinos are even more vulnerable now because of COVID-19 with the streamlined disaster front liners and health protocols being observed. Worse, the government is saying that funds for calamity and quick reaction are almost depleted.   

KMP has activated and mobilized its Oplan Sagip Kanayunan relief and rehabilitation machinery to forewarn peasant communities to prepare, to help monitor the damages and effects of Typhoon Rolly, and to gather support and donation for typhoon-stricken farmers, fisherfolk, and rural families.

Despite its budget amounting to billions of pesos, the Philippine Department of Agriculture can only offer seeds, fingerlings, and loans for farmers and fisherfolk who lost their houses, crops, farm animals, farm, and fishing tools including fishing boats, and sources of livelihood. 

“On top of the effects of the pandemic and several months of militarist lockdown, farmers have to endure the calamitous effects of typhoons all-year-round. The successive typhoons Nika, Ofel, Pepito, and Quinta resulted in billions in agricultural losses,” the KMP leader further said.

Swift aid for Catanduanes

KMP also demanded swift aid for Catanduanes disaster victims. As of November 3, the island-province of Catanduanes remains isolated and unreachable. There are still no means to transport any form of relief and assistance from mainland Albay to Catanduanes.

Aerial view of Viga, Catanduanes (from Coast Guard)

Majority of Catanduanes residents are fishing and farming families. Initial reports state that 10,000 to 15,000 families lost their houses in the ravaging typhoon. An estimate of Ph400 million worth of abaca crops was destroyed and an additional Ph200 million worth of other crops – rice, coconut, bananas, other vegetables were also destroyed. The Philippine social welfare department prepositioned a meager 2,000 relief packs in the island-province before RollyPH struck.
For donations and more details, visit Sagip Kanayunan on Facebook    

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