Their Disaster Risk Reduction Management Operations Center’s (DA-DRRM OpCen) online bulletin detailed that more than 3,780 farmers and fishers from Regions I (Ilocos Region), III (Central Luzon) IV-A (CALABARZON), V (Bicol), as well as the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) were affected by the storm. They added that about 7,457 metric tons of rice, corn, and livestock among others were lost, alongside 16,659 hectares of agricultural areas.
Separately, the agency feared that 1,469,037 hectares of rice and 281,322 hectares of corn may have been damaged. Meanwhile, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) added that the agriculture sector being ravaged by calamities is nothing now, as was the case when Typhoon Odette left P13.3 billion in damages in 2021.
While the DA may be offering interventions, such as seed packs, emergency funds, and livestock medicine, the National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates - Youth (NNARA-Youth) said that these may not be enough to alleviate the farmers’ woes. They took aim at president and self-proclaimed agriculture head Bongbong Marcos’ aerial inspection in the morning after Karding’s landfall.
“Instead of the aerial inspections that might even be a waste of public funds and the usual photo ops that are useless and counterproductive, the Marcos administration should render immediate assistance to those affected by the typhoon. What our farmers need is immediate cash assistance,” NNARA-Youth’s national chairperson Zoe Caballero decried.
The progressive youth group called for the immediate distribution of P15,000 in production subsidies for affected farmers. They called for the funds given to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to be reallocated “to aid our fellow Filipinos in need.”
Meanwhile, their members from University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), demanded Marcos and other agencies to straighten-out their priorities, adding that farmers also struggle with rising oil prices and increasing imports.
“Ugaliin din, lalo na ng pangulo ng bansa na si Bongbong Marcos, na unahin ang mga usaping nabanggit at magkaroon ng madaliang pagkilos dahil kailangan nating isipin na ari-arian, pangkabuhayan, at buhay ang nakasalalay sa bawat desisyong isinasagawa ng mga nakaupo sa pwesto,” NNARA-Youth UPLB urged, highlighting that more than 2.4 million farmers (as of 2020) are living below the poverty line.
(“Always remember, especially for the Philippine President Bongbong Marcos, to keep these discussions in mind and to mobilize quicker, because we have to recognize that products, jobs, and lives are all at stake in every decision made by those in-charge.”)
Bongbong is so jet-lagged?
Having returned from his working trip to the United States, Marcos was heavily criticized not just for his supposed sluggish response to Karding, but also for uploading his latest vlog on the very day the super typhoon made its landfall. The latter was viewed by netizens as being insensitive and irresponsible of him.
“The government is not doing enough to mitigate the risks and to prepare for the possible effects and aftermath of KardingPH. We see no sense of urgency from Malacañang, the agriculture, and social welfare departments, and other agencies in charge. May jet lag pa ba ang mga nanggaling sa New York? (Are the New York returnees still experiencing jet lag?),” ex-Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and peasant leader Rafael Mariano slammed last September 25.
Further backlash came after Marcos, in a briefing with National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Monday, downplayed climate change as a “trend.” As Marcos previously spoke about the issue at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) during his trip, the irony was not lost among critics.
In fact, teenaged Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg warned that the Philippines would not see climate justice under a Marcos administration.
Given these, Mariano emphasized that “Marcos Jr.'s speech at the UNGA urging powerful nations to take action against climate change would only be lip service if his policies will continue to espouse plunder of the environment through large-scale mining operations, expansion of plantations, mega-infrastructure projects, and reclamation.”
Meanwhile, Caballero called for the public to aid those who were affected by Karding.
“Habang kinakalampag natin ang admistrasyong ito na umaksyon at tulungan ang ating mga kababayan, tayo ay kumilos at magkaisa sa abot ng ating makakaya para tulungan ang ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda na sinalanta ng bagyo. Dahil gaya ng mga naunang sakuna baka pabayaan ulit sila ng pamahalaan,” she concluded.
("While we are rattling the administration to act and help the people, we must move and come together to the best that we can to help farmers and fishers affected by the storm. Just like in previous disasters, they might be abandoned by the government yet again.")
(Second paragraph updated with more recent information.)
Reuben Pio Martinez is a news writer who covers stories on various communities and scientific matters. He regularly tunes in to local happenings. The views expressed are his own.
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