By Betheena Unite
A food security fund is being set up by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to acquire palay from its local farmers to ensure adequate food supply for the entire region as the government intensifies its campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Acquiring rice supply from the farmers will “encourage them to produce more palay” as the region carries on with its relief operations in five provinces.
“Sine-set up na yung pondo para bilhin yung mga mapo-produce na palay ng mga tao natin para ma-encourage namin na mag-produce sila ng mas mataas kaysa doon sa prevailing market (The fund is already being set up to buy the produce of farmers and to encourage them to produce more than (what’s available in the) market),” Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, BARMM local government minister and spokesman, said during the Laging Handa press briefing Tuesday.
“Para lahat ng mapo-produce nila matinda. Kailangan na nating paghandaan yung food security dahil kapag nagtagal po ito ay magiging problema natin yung pagpapakain doon sa mga kababayan natin dito sa rehiyon (We want to ensure that all their produce will be sold. We need to ensure our region’s food security because in case this (crisis) will be extended, we have to deal with feeding our (people) in the region),” Sinarimbo added.
At present, the region has recorded three deaths due to COVID-19 while three have recovered. The region is also monitoring a total of 7, 785 persons who manifested symptoms of the disease.
Health facility, testing hub
Sinarimbo bared that the region is looking to build a medical facility and establish a testing facility within the region to decongest hospitals and testing facilities in neighboring regions.
BARMM is eyeing to provide necessary facilities at the Cotabato Sanitarium to handle COVID-19 cases in case the number of patients will increase significantly.
“Meron tayong pondo para diyan and then para ma-enhance yung pagpapabilis sa testing. Kausap po natin yung Cotabato Regional Medical Center para bilhan sila ng equipment para magkaroon tayo ng sub-national testing facility (We have funds to support testing. We have been coordinating with the Cotabato Regional Medical Center to equip the hospital so it can be declared as sub-national testing facility),” Sinarimbo said.
“Para yung mga mamamayan dito sa rehiyon ay dito na lang magpa-test at hindi na kailangan dalhin sa Davao dahil malayo sa atin yun at baka ma-overwhelm din yung nandoon sa Davao (We will do what is needed so that our people won’t have to go to Davao for testing so that the medical staff and facilities there will not be overwhelmed,too)” the official added.
Cutting-edge mapping and monitoring
The Bangsamoro Region has been utilizing cutting-edge mapping and monitoring the conduct of emergency response and relief operations.
Infographics are prepared and published daily to show the reported cases in the region, areas covered by relief operations, and areas that have yet to be reached by assistance, Sinarimbo said.
“Kailangan natin ito upang hindi magkaroon ng sitwasyon kung saan magpapatong patong yung tulong sa isang area at meron namang makalimutan na mga LGUs na hindi natutulungan. So, ito yung tracking system natin sa demand at response natin (We need to ensure that help is being distributed to all local government units by deploying a tracking system on the level of demand for services and the response of the government),” Sinarimbo explained.
Cash funds have also been distributed to the region’s provinces, cities and municipalities. Sinarimbo said P5-million assistance to each of the five provinces in the region had been handed out while each of the cities received P2 million and its 116 municipalities got P1 million each.