1.15.2011

PIA News Service - Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011

58M total calamity fund, not enough to finance damage to infrastructure

BUTUAN CITY - Cost of damage on the infrastructure sector brought by the recent flooding in Butuan City reached 123.6 million pesos based on the information released by the city government as per evaluation.

Massive floods destroyed roads when Agusan River and creeks overflowed and more than half of the 86 barangays were submerged to flood due to the heavy and continuous rains experienced in the first week of January 2011.

It was learned, the government's Calamity Fund would not be enough to rehabilitate the estimated cost of damage to infrastructure in the amount of 123.8 million pesos.

According to DILG City Director Romeo Solis, the city initially released 16 million pesos that represents 30% of the total 58 million Calamity Fund of the local government of Butuan.

Local officials are also worried; flood caused immense damage to agriculture.

The Mayor’s Office has directed the Office of the City Agriculture to make a preliminary assessment of the damage caused to the agriculture sector to help prepare an emergency rehabilitation plan.

When President Benigno Simeon Aquino visited Butuan on January 14, 2011, Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr. received 50 sacks of certified seeds, 3 farm inputs, and 2 boxes of assorted vegetable seeds.

“These agricultural inputs will be distributed among the flood-hit farmers and although floodwaters have receded, but infrastructure as well as the agriculture rehabilitation has emerged as one of the major challenges for the city government,” said Mayor Amante.

The floods had hit a total of 61 barangays with more than 88,000 persons affected. (Jocelyn E. Morano/PIA-Caraga)

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Feature: Banana venture raise hopes

By: Gervacio Dauz, Jr.

Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte – It was and still is rough road in going to and from in this place via the Sibagat path, yet a time is coming when the winds of change will be sweeping the terrains of this place, giving way to acres and acres of bananas, and bringing in an onslaught of economic development.

This was the collective belief of the top grade personalities who attended the Ground Breaking Ceremony done this 11th day of January 2011 here for the establishment of a banana plantation, which will be primed up by the La Agusana Fresh International, Inc. (LAFII) and the Del Monte Corporation in collaboration with the Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte, the Local Government Unit here, and the landowners, who just in time became farmer beneficiaries through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

According to Hon. Enrico R. Corvera, Vice Governor of Agusan del Norte, “In a nutshell, grace has come to Las Nieves.” This banana plantation, he considered, would spur economic productivity for the people here and would generate secondary industries that would facilitate further development.

He revealed also that other prospective investors, like Koreans, have already made their overtures that they are interested to establish agricultural pursuits such as palm oil, corn, cassava, and likewise banana in a large scale manner. He just hoped that this engagement for the people here would result in a “dynamic, productive relationship with our investors.”

Alex R. Garay, Department Head of PEEDMO, who very well knew the innards of this big bang collaboration, pointed out that so far, “This is the most aggressive economic venture…and that Las Nieves plans to develop itself and to wake up as the sleeping dragon.”

He further announced that LAFII would also establish the first ever gasoline station here. In the offing also would be the wakening up of the 1st Las Nieves Rural Bank to cater to the upcoming economic activities that would be spurred by the banana plantation and other business ventures. These ventures, he deemed will surely ignite “gainful opportunities, improve accessibility, increase revenues…”

In the end, sort of being prophetic, he urged those present to “witness the unfolding of a new era … lend a hand…facilitate and coordinate…no reasons to fail if we share.”

A bucketful of thanks was what Hon. Reinario P. Rosales, Mayor here, blurted out, because to his remembrance, the desire of the people here to be uplifted from their economic woes has had since been time immemorial or from the time of his great, great grandfather. He noted, now that the silver lining of positive event started to shimmer during his last term, he is very excited to see it germinate and progress.

According to Hon. Rey Jamboy, Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member, this project has been long in preparation and gestation. It was not born overnight, but it went to several procedures and pathways until it became a reality.

In between, DAR Provincial Office of Agusan del Norte distributed Certificates of Landownership Award to 505 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) covering a contiguous land area of 730 hectares. Denia Jabagat, PARO I, who officiated the distribution with the support of LGU hot shots, urged the recipient-ARBs to till the land and make it productive.

At the sidelines, TESDA, which was invited at the ceremony, is likewise gearing for possible skills development intervention that will be unleashed in the event that the economic ventures in the area would go full swing. Prior to the ceremony, TESDA had already batted that conglomerations or corporations venturing into big economic projects should include or implement corporate social responsibility package of deliverables in their respective business agenda in order to facilitate improving the people’s human resources through technical education and skills training among others.

As for Mr. Guido Bekavita, Director of the Del Monte Corporation, he promised that his company “will participate in the progress of the region.” As a precondition, “as an international company, we will invest if the condition is good – like good place, climate, people, LGU support.”

This early, he boldly declared that the entry of the banana plantation “will change the image of your community. Therefore, take a picture of your community, because it will change in the future. For us, we need 5,000 hectares for our initial investment.”

Finally, the trio of Vice Governor Corvera, Mayor Rosales, and Mr. Bekavita laid the time capsule, signaling the birth of an ambitious project that would forever change the landscape and economy of this place. A ceremonial banana planting followed suit. (TESDA-Agusan del Norte/PIA-Caraga)

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Results of climate studies prompt immediate action - Legarda

Citing reports from recent studies on climate change, Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, today said that the whole nation should waste no time and must work together to immediately establish the necessary mechanisms that would ward off the ill effects of global warming.

According to reports from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the global average surface temperature for 2010, which is 14 degrees Celsius (57 Fahrenheit), is the same with the record set in 2005. Furthermore, 2010 was also the wettest year on record.

Legarda said that with scientific certainty, the warming global climate is a threat to agriculture and food security to countries with populations heavily relying on the sector.

From 1970 to 1990, typhoons, floods and droughts resulted in an 82.4% loss to total Philippine rice production. When tropical cyclones Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi hit the country in 2009, the agriculture sector alone lost Php29.38 billion covering 30 provinces in 7 regions.

“As we continue to face weather in extremes, public health, energy, water security, our biodiversity, and economic growth are also under grave threat. Most at risk are lives that we cannot put a price on,” Legarda said.

“With all this in mind, we cannot afford to wait for the next screaming headline about death and destruction from typhoons, floods or drought before we take concrete actions. It is critical that the increased attention, interest, and sense of urgency in responding to the challenges posed by climate change and disaster risks are translated to local actions that effectively reduce disaster vulnerability,” she further explained.

The Senator stressed the need to make communities safer, more resilient, and even more ready to act when disaster strikes.

“We must build homes for the homeless, but we need to make sure they are built in areas that will ensure safety and security to home owners even in times of disasters. We must construct roads and bridges to facilitate movements of goods and services; but in building them, we will make sure they do not facilitate the demise of lives. We must not train our sights merely on enhancing our capacities to re-build in times of disasters; but rather on reducing risks for our people and building lasting communities,” she concluded. (Office of Senator Loren Legarda/PIA-Caraga)