North Cotabato allots P993M for rice, vegetable subsidy during quarantine

Mother and daughter enhance their relationship under an Enhanced Community Quarantine in North Cotabato by teaming up to transplant pechay seedlings on a plot in their backyard garden. Backyard gardening is encouraged by the Department of Agriculture during the COVID-19 crisis. MindaNews photo by GEONARRI O. SOLMERANO

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 23 April) – North Cotabato has allotted P176 million monthly to fund its rice and vegetable subsidy program for residents affected by the community quarantine to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The subsidy, which will benefit 400,000 poor households, will last from April to September, or a total of P993 million from the province’s internal revenue allotment (IRA).

The release was recently approved by the provincial board, according to Dr. Philbert Malaluan, manager of the Emergency Operations Center of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid19.

Malaluan said they released the fund based on Proclamation Order No. 929 of President Duterte last month declaring a state of national calamity.

He added the province has a supplemental budget of P476 million for 2020 and has received half of its 13th month of IRA worth P116 million.

“We don’t have to borrow from financial institutions. We still have funds to support our project to ensure there’s food on the table in every poor household in North Cotabato,” he said.

On Wednesday, Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco led the distribution of 10 kilos of rice with vegetables to each of some 13,200 families in Arakan; 7,300 families in Antipas; and 14,884 families in President Roxas.

Malaluan clarified that the stocks of rice came from local millers, Jazmin rice from Nueva Ecija and Luzon, and from imports.

The province decided not to purchase from the National Food Authority, which could only provide around 8,000 sacks of rice.

“Dili ta manghatag og NFA rice. Ang atuang budget is P2,200 per bag. Commercial rice ni, tarong nga rice [We will not distribute NFA rice.  Our budget is P2,200 per bag.  Commercial rice, good and quality rice],” Malauan said.

On Friday, rice distribution will take place Banisilan, Alamada, Pigcawayan and Aleosan towns, and on Saturday in M’lang, Tulunan and Matalam towns.

Next week, the rice distribution is scheduled in Magpet, Makilala, and Kidapawan City. (Malu Cadeliña-Manar/MindaNews)