Bacolod: 2 more Negros LGUs declare state of calamity

photo courtesy of The Visayan Daily Star

Bacolod City – Two more local government units in Negros Island have placed their respective areas under a state of calamity, due to the prevailing drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

During its recent regular session, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental adopted the recommendation of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to place the city under a state of calamity.

Based on the report of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, damage to rice and corn crops in 13 barangays of Kabankalan was pegged at P41.9 million, affecting 1,214 farmers tilling 1,126 hectares of land.

Mayor Benjie Miranda also reported the rationing of potable water in almost all 32 barangays, especially in the hinterland areas of the city.

Vice Mayor Miguel Zayco disclosed that a manifestation was made during the SP regular session to include sugarcane plantations under the state of calamity declaration.

The sugarcane fields were not listed in the damage report of CDRRMC.

The municipality of Santa Catalina in Negros Oriental was also placed under a state of calamity.

In a statement, the provincial government of Negros Oriental said that Santa Catalina LGU, an agricultural site, tremendously suffered a great deal of loss in terms of their livelihood, putting its residents in jeopardy.

On April 17, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist turned over a tractor, as well as a rice and corn harvester to the municipality of Santa Catalina and was also assured of another tractor and financial assistance for the affected farmers.

In Negros Occidental, the ongoing drought caused further havoc on rice and corn crops, with the damage placed at P184,764.120.11, as of April 16.

Last month, the municipality of San Enrique in Negros Occidental, was placed under a state of calamity.

According to a report of the Department of Agriculture regional office, the drought in Negros Occidental is expected to be full blown before May.

In a statement, the United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) issued an appeal to Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer, and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to declare Negros Occidental under a state of calamity to enable them to buy airplanes for cloud seeding operations.

“Our sugar industry needs rain now. This will be the same next year and the province should be ready to help the island of Negros,” UNIFED president Manuel Lamata said.

Lacson, however, said he is not inclined to recommend placing the province under a state of calamity, since they still have funds, which is around P8 million to P10 million, that can be used to help drought-affected farmers.

The Bureau of Soil Water Management, which is under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture, had earlier denied the request to conduct cloud seeding operations, due to lack of viable clouds and moisture.

Meanwhile, Lacson said he suggested Mayor Jilson Tubillara release the financial assistance to be extended to drought affected farmers in San Enrique town jointly with the provincial government, so they can receive more.

Mayor John Rey Tabujara yesterday said that they will not declare Cauayan under a state of calamity, amid reports of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist that among 32 LGUs in the province, the municipality was worst hit by the drought.

The drought affected 1,128 farmers tilling 579.54 hectares of rice land in Cauayan, with damage pegged at P67,889,229, OPA reports indicated. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star)

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