(2nd of a series)
LGUs urge folks to plant for food
EASTERN Misamis Oriental–“Intensifying farm production as top anti-Covid initiative is one efficient way of mitigating the impact of this present crisis, “ Usec Ben Ranque suggested when interviewed at his residence in barangay Portulin, Medina town.
Ranque said the households should plant vegetables and fruits in their backyards to sustain their food needs when they have no money to buy such in the market after losing their income due to Covid health protocols.
“Even I myself and my family are now trying to grow vegetables.
Also, Talisayan mayor Rommel Maslog said he has urged his constituents to plant for food. “My administration is now looking for vacant government lands in the barangays for hard-up families and possible Balik-Probinsya beneficiaries for them to engage in farming to sustain their immediate need for food.”
In Gingoog City, mayor Eric Caniosa and vice Mayor Peter Unabia are now mapping out projects to support fruit and vegetable growers. “We interviewed some sellers of fruits and vegetables here and asked them where their stuff came from, and told us that they grow it themselves. We have rich farm soils in the hinterlands of this city and we are now preparing projects to establish farms for Indigenous communities. The City is ready to contract loans with outside sources for these farm projects. This would facilitate cheap sources of food.
In another interview, this city, Agusan del Norte, governor Dale Corvera, who is also the Regional IATF chairman told the reportorial team his province is lucky as it is hugely an agriculture producer. We have sufficient sources of farm produce and we dont need to buy aggie staples from outside. We even have the capacity to support other provinces for their food needs such as rice, vegetables and fruits, aquatic products.”
Corvera added that his province’s self-sufficiency has sustained them throught-out the Covid period. This was the reason why we are Covid-free since at the very beginning when the President declared the National Emergency, we immediately implemented the health protocols.
Butuanon folks interviewed by the team said that the success of their fight against Covid 19 was due largely to unity in the political arena and in the private sector. One vendor commented that because their political leaders were united, there was no problem in the distribution of government aid from the national down to the local government entities.
The province of Agusan del Norte and the City of Butuan have implemented efficient policies in containing the virus spread. The City Administrator of Butuan City Reynante Desiata said that the City has supported the affected sectors, with rice and food stuff. “Initially we spent P20 million for the 1st wave of our assistance to the constituents, followed with another P70 million of food packs for the 2nd wave. We have established a sufficient number of isolation facilities through-out the province. As early as March, we have already implemented health protocols in almost all towns and barangays of the province. We have facilities at the Butuan Medical Center. As of this writing, we still have no severe cases of Covid in the province but we have already put up 90 percent of the isolation facilities. We already have PCR machines. By the 1st week of July we shall have completed the installation of our quarantine facilities. Our business sector is severely affected.”
He said their policies were always dependent on the guidelines imposed by the national IATF. Presently we have gone back to easier restrictions under the MGCQ requirements. What we have restricted are the movements of the general populace. We have to balance the economy and health safeguards for our people.”
The people of Butuan have already adjusted to the situation. They already know what has to be done in this time of crisis because we have oriented them from time to time. We still implement the curfew hours allowed.
On the Balik Probinsya program, our only request is that the pre-entry activities should be properly calibrated. Ang nangyari those who were tested positive we immediately placed them in isolation areas. Ang nangyari ngayon, hindi na natin pwedeng ipagsama ang positive at newly arrived kaya we established additional quarantine facilities and asked their families to quarantine them at their own homes.
On mass gatherings like fiesta and church masses, we asked the households to have simple celebrations. And we discourage them to accept fiesta visitors, he added.
The most affected sectors are those from the MSMS or medium & small business establishments. The City is now intensifying its infra projects so that we can accomodate the affected for jobs in the construction industries.”
We are thankful that with MGCQ status some of our workers can go back to their livelihood.
In interviews with other sectors in Butuan City and Agusan del Norte
The team observed that Hotels and other establishments have already accommodated 50 percent of their capacity. However, the operators said they are only employing skeletal workers to man their establishments because there is little business occuring.
In interviews with security guards and tricycle drivers, most interviewees decry the lack of support from their former employers. Security guards in establishments said they were only given a few days of work in a week to support their. The trisikad drivers said that the social distancing protocols reduced their income to almost 30 percent.
At the Lipata Ferry Terminal in Surigao City, the Team observed very few transport activities. Observably, there were few delivery trucks loaded with agri products and vegetables for Samar and Leyte food traders. Most of the food establishments at the said terminal said that they lost about 80 percent of their income when Covid 19 health protocols were imposed.
“Ang hirap po sir, wala na kaming mapagkukunan ng makain kasi wala kaming benta dito sa pier ng Lipata dahil sa social distancing,” said one of the food vendors.
Reaching San Ricardo pier in Leyte, the Team had some interactions with the food vendors.
“Sir, when the Covid 19 health protocols were imposed wala nang kumakain sa eatery namin” said one of the eatery owners. “Karamihan sa niluluto namin na hindi nabenta, nasasayang. Sana yong gobyerno natin ay hindi naging stricto sa mga lugar na wala namang Covid case. Kasi natatakot ang mga biyahero na huminto at kumain sa aming eatery dahil sa mga anunsyo ng taga gobyerno.
The local officials also in Leyte and Samar provinces and towns also commended the national government of its fast action in implementing the Social Amelioration Funds distribution. However, one of the interviewees commented that “it was not enough to support their displaced workers in terms of food sustenance,”
Due to this, a barangay official who requested not to be identified, said the use of the 2015 listing was an injustice for those who are really in need for this year’s support. One resident of Samar said, it was an excuse for some LGU officials to commit graft and corruption acts.
In Allen, Samar, San Joaquino barangay, a kagawad said that because their LGU has no sufficient funds for the support to locally-stranded-individuals who were quarantined, they requested the family of the PUI to extend support. “We also asked donations from the private sector to give donations.,” she said.
She added that the mayor of Allen also gave support to those in the quarantine centers including masks and other needs of the frontliners.
She said their local initiative included installing isolation facilities in schools. :”To date we have 20 rooms ready for such,” said Kag. Norris C. Amigo. –With reports from Gerry Lee Gorit, The PhilStar correspondent, and Richard dela Cruz, Eagle Broadcasting Corp.