Cotabato City under state of calamity due to "El Nino"

April 17, 2015 9:58 am 

By Edwin O. Fernandez

COTABATO CITY, April 16 (PNA) — The Cotabato City government has placed 19 of the city's 37 villages under state of calamity after hundreds of rice and corn fields were damaged due to the long dry spell.

The Sangguniang Panglungsod has approved a resolution putting the affected village under state of calamity so the local government could use its calamity fund in helping the affected farmers, Mayor Japal Guiani Jr told reporters.

“State of calamity has been declared in 19 villages so that our farmers can receive assistance concern government agencies while our government workers can avail of calamity loan,” Guiani added.

Guiani said the three-month dry spell which agriculture officials described as 'mild El Nino phenomenon,' could not have been felt by farmers if an irrigation project was completed in the village of Tamontaka.

He urged the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to probe this project which he described as 'ghost project."

"The city is surrounded by two big rivers – Tamontaka River and Rio Grande de Mindanao and I can hardly believe our farm lands get dried up," Guiani told reporters.

Guiani said there was a 100-hectare irrigation rehabilitation project in Tamontaka implemented by NIA with a budget of Php 64 million in 2012.

But the project was not completed, quoting an investigation report he ordered after he assumed office as mayor.

“Our farmers are now suffering because of the drought but the effect could have been lesser if the irrigation project was completed," he said. “Had it been completed, it would have benefited our farmers even if no rain in the past three months."

When asked about the project, Food and Security Sec. Francis Kiko Pangilinan, who was visiting Maguindanao, said he would order an investigation.

More than 300 farmers in 400 hectares farmlands planted to rice and corn have been affected by the drought.

Among those affected was farmer Leon Musa of Barangay Tamontaka, Cotabato City whose farmlands have been destroyed by the absence of rain.

His several hectares of rice fields were rainfed or dependent on rain for irrigation.

“You have seen my rice field, it is 100 percent destroyed and has no chances of recovery," he told reporters.

"What I am praying now is rain, strong rain “All I pray is rain, more rain because we cannot rely on water from the river. Strong rain is what we need here,” he added. (PNA)

RMA/NYP/EOF

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