‘No more Kidapawan massacre!’ DA prepared for El Niño
The battle cry of the Department of Agriculture (DA) now is: “There will be repeat of the Kidapawan City Massacre.”
That’s according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, who said that as the climatic phenomenon El Niño now affects farmlands in the many parts of the country, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is prepared to deliver interventions, including cloud seeding operations, to assist the agriculture sector.
Almost three years ago, a group of farmers in my home city in Kidapawan staged a rally to ask government for rice and other support after the El Niño ravaged their farms.
They were dispersed by policemen on orders of local officials, which was followed by two farmers being shot and killed.
This issue became a major political issue as the 2016 elections were near then.
“Even then Presidential candidate Rody Duterte who volunteered to help the farmers by gathering donations from Davao City residents came under fire from the Governor of North Cotabato, Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, who questioned his motives,” Piñol said.
“She accused then Mayor Duterte of using the massacre as a staging ground for his Presidential bid,” he added.
According to Piñol, none of that will happen now because the DA has already prepared interventions since mid-2018 when the first report of a possible El Niño came out.
Among the interventions readied by the DA are: Cloud seeding operations in areas where there heavy cloud formations; Crop Insurance Payments by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp; Survival and Recovery (SURE) Loan which extends P25,000 No-Collateral, No-Interest Loans to farmers affected by calamities payable in 3 years; and Seeds and fertilizers ready for release as soon as the rains fall and the farmers are ready to plant.
“In extreme cases where farming families would be adversely affected, the DA could use its Quick Reaction Fund to deliver rice and food rations,” Piñol said.