5 Philippine provinces still under state of calamity

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Five provinces, eight cities and five municipalities remain under a declared state of calamity nine days after typhoon "Pedring" pummeled the country, destroying billions worth of infrastructure and agricultural crops in Central Luzon.

Placed under a state of calamity were the provinces of Quirino, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya and Cavite.

The eight cities under a state of calamity are Santiago, Tuguegarao in Region II (Cagayan Valley); Meycauayan, Olongapo and Tarlac in Region III (Central Luzon); and Malabon, Navotas and Marikina in the National Capital Region.

The five municipalities under a state of calamity are Amulung, Cagayan; Obando, Bulacan; Calumpit, Bulacan; Dinalupihan, Bataan and Noveleta, Cavite.

Still impassable

As of Friday, the reported damage by Pedring continued to climb and has reached P12.3 billion, surpassing the damage wrought by storm "Ondoy" in 2009 which caused P10.9-billion (US$250 million) damage to infrastructure and agriculture.

Latest reports reaching the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said damage to crops and livestock had reached P10.8 billion while damage to schools, roads and hospital hit P1.5 billion.

The death toll from Pedring and typhoon Quiel that followed has climbed to 92.

The NDRRMC confirmed that at least 79 people have died with 24 others still missing and 66 injured by Pedring.

Some 543,000 people or 117,194 families were displaced.

The NDRRMC said 209,470 persons were in 435 evacuation centers while the rest have sought shelter in relatives' or friends' homes.

A total of 29 bridge and road sections remain impassable; 13 of these are in Region III, eight in the Cordillera Administrative Region, seven in Region II and one in Region I.

The NDRRMC also reported that assistance provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Health, local government units and even nongovernment organizations in Regions I, II, III, IV-A, IV-B, V and CAR had reached P100.1 million.

Damage reports from typhoon

"Quiel" have yet to come in.

So far, the NDRRMC has only received partial reports of damage to infrastructure in Region II which was estimated at P115 million.

The same roads and bridges damaged by Pedring were also affected by Quiel.

Quiel's death toll has climbed to 13 with 12 others injured in Regions I, II, III and CAR.

Nearly 70,000 people or 16,000 families are still in 207 evacuation centers, while another 115,000 people or 26,000 families stay outside evacuation centers.

Quick response fund

To support farmers during calamities, a legislator wants the national government to allocate P5 billion to a quick response fund (QRF) in the 2012 budget.

Butil Farmers partylist Rep. Agapito Guanlao said 50 lawmakers had expressed support to the creation of the QRF as of Thursday.

Guanlao said the QRF was necessary because the national calamity fund does not set aside funds for the agricultural sector.

There are no emergency funds appropriated in the regular budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) while this year's programs outlined by the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 (Republic Act 8435) are still unfunded, Guanlao said yesterday.

Aside from the QRF, Guanlao recommended the restocking and redistribution of certified seeds and other inputs to farmers whose crops were destroyed by floods triggered by Pedring and Quiel.

Temporary jobs

He called on the National Food Authority to buy wet palay from farmers and lend them drying and milling facilities, as well as storage facilities, so they could recover lost income.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz on Friday said she had approved the release of P31.6 million to provide temporary jobs for workers affected by the typhoons in five regions.

Through the Department of Labor and Employment's emergency assistance fund, a total of 7,138 informal and formal sector workers will be given emergency employment in the Regions 1, 2 and 3; Cordillera Administrative Region and National Capital Region, Baldoz said.

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