Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) called for the realignment of the P19 billion NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to Eliminate Local Communist Armed Conflict) budget for the recovery of P10.5 billion damages in agriculture caused by successive typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses. “Areas in Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Bulacan, Cagayan Valley, and Isabela devastated by the typhoons are filled with agricultural activity; farmers are undoubtedly among the worst affected and will be the ones who will take the most time and effort to recover,” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos says.
The peasant leader pointed out that the anti-insurgency task force’s budget can be more effectively used for agricultural relief and rehabilitation. “Immediately, it can augment the measly P3.5 billion budget allocated for the PCIC (Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation) and the Agriculture Department’s minuscule P1 billion Quick Response Fund. That the budget for NTF’s reproachable red-tagging activities is bigger than for insurance of farmers, in an agricultural and archipelagic country, in the context of climate change, defies logic and is absolutely unacceptable. Mas mahalaga pa ba ang mga paninira nina Badoy at Parlade kaysa matulungan ang mga nasalantang magsasaka?” Ramos cites the wanton red tagging practices of NTF spokespersons Lorraine Badoy and Antonio Parlade, who baselessly tagged as terrorists news agency CNN Philippines and actress Angel Locsin.
“We support SINAG (Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura)’s earlier call to increase PCIC’s budget by at least five-fold, or up to P17.5 billion. Kahit nga ito ay mas maliit pa sa ibibigay sa NTF,” Ramos adds. “We also encourage government to implement automatic insurance coverage for farmers.”
Ramos further points out that farmers’ crops were also damaged by other storms. “Aside from Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses, typhoons Pepito, Sioni, and Tisoy also inundated farms. The actual damage in agriculture incurred from these typhoons is larger than P10.5 billion.”
According to the peasant leader, the record-breaking extent of the damages from the typhoons should compel the government to act with urgency, “Typhoon Ulysses, the sixth to enter the country in less than a month, caused unprecedented flooding and a record 37 deaths in Cagayan Valley. Government complacency is absolutely unacceptable now. Donations from private individuals and charitable organizations can only do so much, only the government has sufficient resources and machinery to effect the most significant aid for those affected. Sa totoo lang, ito mismong pagtulong sa mamamayan ang tungkulin at trabaho nila.”
KMP leads its own Sagip Kanayunan relief and rehabilitation drive for farmers affected by the typhoons. As of November 15, they have gathered more than P90,000 for neglected peasant communities in Bicol, Bulacan, Cagayan, and Isabela.
“Napakalaki na ng inilugi ng mga magsasaka. Bilang tagalikha ng pagkain ng bansa, dapat lang silang suportahan ng pamahalaan, kung hindi tayo-tayo rin ang magugutom,” Ramos ends. #