Fisherfolks demand their share of DA’s calamity fund

Published November 20, 2020, 3:45 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Typhoon-hit fishermen are demanding to get a share from the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) calamity fund a week after Ulysses, the deadliest storm to hit the Philippines so far for this year, made landfall and affected their livelihood.

On Friday, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) trooped DA’s Central Office to demand livelihood assistance for the fisherfolk adversely affected by the successive typhoons, particularly Ulysses that rendered thousands of coastal families in Southern Luzon homeless.

According to the group, the DA should mobilize its P1.5-billion Quick Response Fund (QRF), which is under the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA), to help the fishermen too.

The QRF is intended for communities affected by natural or human-induced calamities, epidemics, crises and catastrophes.

“The successive calamities are inflicting too much hardship to the lives and livelihood of the fisherfolk. We are not begging, but we are asserting what is rightfully ours,”  Fernando Hicap, national chairperson of PAMALAKAYA, said.

“The government is accountable to us. It is very crucial that the budget for calamity and emergency on the hands of DA be mobilized and directly distributed to the affected fishers and farmers without further delay,” he added.

In the Bicol region, which was also hit by Super Typhoon Rolly, coastal municipalities situated along the Ragay Gulf were heavily ravaged by Ulysses.

Among the areas devastated by the typhoon were coastal towns in Camarines Sur including Pasacao, Balatan, Ragay, and Bula, and coastal towns in Albay such as Libon and Pio Duran.

Almost 80 percent of the region’s coastal families have been displaced and lost their homes.

The estimated cost of damage in the Bicol region is around P26.6 million as per the government data.

“Considered as among the poorest sectors in the country, the fishers lost almost everything they had. Massive relief efforts initiated by various people’s and non-governmental organizations are not enough, they still need long-term aid in a form of livelihood support to help them get back on their feet and resume their journey to fish,” Hicap said.

“The DA should compensate the loss of potential income of our fisherfolk and farmers. Granting our food security front liners livelihood support will give them the opportunity to rebuild their lives and continue the wheels of production,” he added.

As of Friday, Ulysses’ total damage and losses to the farm sector grew to P4.03 billion from the previously reported P3.84 billion, based on the latest data from the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM),

So far, the government was also able to take note of the 102,500 farmers and fisherfolk that were affected by the typhoon.

The DA already allotted P6 billion to provide emergency interventions in the agriculture sector for the damage and losses left by Ulysses, Rolly, and Quinta.