SouthCot LGU resumes El Niño relief operations

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 11 May) – The provincial government of South Cotabato resumed on Wednesday its relief operations for residents affected by the long dry spell spawned by the El Niño phenomenon.

Milagros Lorca, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) head, said they have sent teams to the municipalities of Lake Sebu, Surallah and T’boli to continue the distribution of five-kilogram rice packs to the beneficiaries.

She said they are targeting to complete by the end of the week the relief operations in the three municipalities so they can proceed to the other areas.

There are only three to four barangays in the three areas that have not yet been reached by the relief teams, she said.

“As of now, we already covered about 30 percent of the targeted 85,000 household-beneficiaries and we’re hoping to finish the relief operations before the end of the month,” Lorca said.

She said their next stop will be the municipalities of Banga and Tantangan, which were among the areas that were hit hardest by the dry spell.

The provincial government earlier tapped personnel and volunteers from the Philippine Red Cross to lead the relief operations due to a prohibition in line with the May 9 elections.

But the official said the local government is now leading the rice distribution as the ban has already been lifted.

She said they have assigned two teams from the PDRRMO and one from the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office to continue the rice distribution, which was temporarily suspended for several days due to the elections.

The provincial government had targeted to distribute some 128,000 relief packs to households affected by the El Niño.

The entire province was placed under a state of calamity last month due to the El Niño, which already destroyed around P284.23-million worth of agricultural crops in the area.

The declaration was made following similar moves by Koronadal City and the three municipalities.

The PDRRM Council had approved the purchase of 12,800 sacks of rice worth P16 million from the National Food Authority for the relief operations.

Lorca said they already completed the preparation or repacking of about 50 percent of the 12,800 sacks of rice.

She added that they are hoping to complete the repacking activities for the remaining rice stocks within the week.