By Malu Cadelina Manar
KIDAPAWAN CITY – Funds amounting to at least a billion pesos were allotted by the Cotabato provincial government to support its rice and vegetable subsidy to at least 400,000 poor households in the province for the months of April until September while quarantine measures are in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The release was approved recently by the provincial council, according to Dr. Philbert Malaluan, manager of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) of the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19.
Malaluan said that each month, the province allots P176 million or a total of P993 million for six months.
Funds are taken from the province’s internal revenue allotment (IRA).
Malaluan said they used as basis for the release of funds the state of calamity declared last March by President Duterte under Proclamation Order Number 929,
The province also has a supplemental budget for 2020 worth P476 million, he said. Recently, the province received half of its 13th month of IRA worth P116 million.
“We don’t have to borrow from financial institutions. We still have funds to support our project to ensure there’s food on the table in every poor household in North Cotabato,” said Malaluan.
On Wednesday, Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco led the distribution of 10 kilos of rice with vegetables to 13,200 families in Arakan; 7,300 families in Antipas; and 14,884 families in President Roxas, all hinterland towns located at the Arakan Valley Development Complex.
Malaluan said the rice came from local millers, Jazmin rice from Nueva Ecija and Luzon, and thousands of imported rice.
The province decided not to purchase bags of rice at the National Food Authority (NFA) since the NFA can only provide the province with 8,000 sacks of rice.
“Dili ta manghatag og NFA rice. Ang atuang budget is P2,200 per bag. Commercial rice ni, tarong nga rice ,” said Malauan.
On Friday, thousands of bags of rice will be distributed to the towns of Banisilan, Alamada, Pigcawayan, and Aleosan. On Saturday, the rice distribution will take place in the towns of M’lang, Tulunan, and Matalam. Next week, the rice subsidy distribution is scheduled in Magpet, Makilala, and Kidapawan City.