Farmers and fisherfolks on Thursday demanded a livelihood assistance of at least ten thousand pesos from the government for rural families affected by El Niño.  

“Kailangan maglaan ng budget ang gobyerno para sa mga pamilyang nasa kanayunan na apektado ng El Niño”, said Manning Rosario of Akbayan Partylist-Peasant Caucus and one of the leaders of Pambansang Katiupunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan or PKSK. The loss in agriculture is estimated to be at 5 billion pesos in the first quarter of 2019. “Ang livelihood assistance ay suporta dahil sa kawalan ng aming hanapbuhay at para matawid ang pamilya namin sa gutom”, he added.  

During 2016 El Niño, a similar measure was taken by the previous administration.  The Department of Social Welfare and Development [DSWD] handed out 10,000 pesos as cash grants to 2.4 million rural families affected, mapped out by the inter-agency task force at the time. 

‘Dahil pabaya, hanapbuhay nasasalanta’

But the Duterte administration came unprepared in dealing with El Niño at this time, according to Akbayan Partylist.  “Ang gobyerno naging pabaya, kaya yung hanapbuhay namin ngayon ang nasasalanta”, said Uper Aleroza of Akbayan Partylist and also of PKSK. 

The government was too slow to respond to El Niño. “Tinulugan ng Pangulo kaya lumalaki ang problema. Ni-reactivate nila ang El Niño Task Force [ENTF] noong March 30 lang, pero Agosto ng nakaraang taon ay alam na nating kailangan ito”, Aleroza said.  

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council or NDRRMC has recommended the re-activation of the ENTF as early as August 2018 but was still awaiting memorandum from the Office of the President. “Dahil walang ENTF, walang plano”, he said.  

The government also failed to stop commercial fishing vessels from fishing in municipal waters. “Ang kakumpitensiya ng mga maliliiit na mangingisda sa panahon na kakaunti na nga lang ang isda ay mga commercial fishing vessels”, explained Aleroza.  The strict prohibition of commercial fishing vessels will give small fisherfolk the bigger share in fish production, according to Aleroza.  

Cash-for-work

Rene Cerilla of Pambansang Kilusan ng Samahang Magsasaka [PAKISAMA] also urged the government to change the cash-for-work scheme of the DSWD.  “Hindi sapat ang 15 days kasi hindi naman natatapos ang problema namin sa loob ng 15 days”, he said.  

The cash-for-work is one of the disaster/risk assistance/management programs of DSWD that gives affected families alternative livelihoods in exchange for cash.  “Imbes na 15 days, kailangan itong i-extend hanggang matapos ang sakuna at paghahanda sa darating na tag-ulan”, he explained.  

The group outlined cash-for-work schemes to address the following:

(1) terrace and prepare parcels of land for future farming; 

(2) fix and maintain irrigation systems; and 

(3) coastal clean-up and fishing grounds’ maintenance. #