Cebu City under state of calamity
The Cebu City Council declared a state of calamity on Wednesday after the prolonged drought destroyed P13.4 million worth of crops and affected the city’s water supply.
The declaration stemmed from the recommendation of Councilor Dave Tumulak who heads the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC).
“We’re expecting the damage to still increase also based on Pagasa’s (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) pronouncement that the El Niño (phenomenon) will continue until late May,” Tumulak said in an interview.
In a report submitted by City Agriculturist Joelito Baclayon to the city council, the dry spell affected at least P13.4 million worth of crops planted in 87.4 hectares of land in the city’s 28 mountain barangays.
Of the 87.4 hectares, the crops planted in four hectares were destroyed by the drought while the rest were damaged, affecting 317 farmers.
These included string beans, cauliflower, sweet corn, eggplant, tomato, ampalaya, hot pepper, lettuce and cut flowers.
He said scattered rains were experienced on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in the mountain barangay of Guba and some parts of the north district.
Aside from damage to crops, the drought also affected the supply of water in all 80 barangays of Cebu City.
Some suppliers like the Pilipinas Water Resources Inc. (PWRI) promised to give their excess water for free to affected residents.
Water tankers from the city’s different barangays will be sent to PWRI’s plant at the South Road Properties (SRP) where they have a daily excess production of 8,000 cubic meters of water
Baclayon also said they will request at least P10 million from the city’s calamity funds to provide more assistance to affected farmers.
But Councilor Alvin Arcilla pointed out that what the council approved is only the declaration of a state of calamity. He said the use of the city’s calamity funds would need another approved resolution from the city council.
According to Tumulak, there’s still P93 million in calamity funds from the previous year. Another P212 million is included in the city’s budget for this year.
Mayor Michael Rama said there is no need to pass another resolution to approve the use of the calamity fund because this is an emergency situation.
“They (council) are the ones creating the calamity. They’re so insecure. There is urgency,” Rama said.
At the Capitol, Jone Siegfried Sepe of the Provincial General Services Office said that because of the declaration of a state of calamity by the provincial board, they can purchase whatever is needed to alleviate the effects of the drought without having to undergo bidding which is otherwise required by law for procurements exceeding P500,000.
“So kung ing-ani nga naa’y state of calamity, pwede diretso na (Now that there is a declaration of a state of calamity, we can purchase directly) regardless of the amount. This will save a lot of time,” he said.
Sepe said they are waiting for the results of the El Niño assessment in order to determine what needs to be purchased.
Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to Comelec Commissioner Robert Lim, Gov. Hilario Davide III asked that they be allowed to continue providing humanitarian assistance and farm implements to those affected by the prolonged drought.
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