Philippines: Pangasinenses overcome disaster-filled 2018

Philippines News Agency

By Hilda Austria

Pangasinenses showed resilience after facing several weather disturbances that caused severe flooding resulting in damage to the agricultural sector and increased cases of leptospirosis and dengue.

Months after the summer annual celebration of Pistay Dayat (Feast of the Sea) in Pangasinan, weather disturbances started to affect the province one after the other.

On July 23, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Pangasinan passed a resolution declaring the entire province under a state of calamity due to flooding brought about by the intensified southwest monsoon and onslaught of Tropical Depression Josie.

Based on the report of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), 381 out of the total 1,364 barangays in the province were flooded, with 1,820 families temporarily evacuated from their homes due to severe flooding.

In September, another weather disturbance hit the country, including the province of Pangasinan. Typhoon Ompong left the province with PHP1.65 billion in damage to agriculture and PHP52 million to infrastructures, the PDRRMO said.

‘Ompong’ affected 40,743 hectares of rice field in 31 local government units (LGUs), and 664 hectares of assorted vegetable plantation in 20 localities of the province.

“Although our province was not directly hit by the typhoon, the ‘palays’ (rice stalks) are in maturity period, while some are flowering so damages in our agriculture are high,” Provincial Agriculturist Dalisay Moya said.

She noted that agricultural losses caused by the typhoon were about 7 percent of the total expected production of the province for this year.

“It may seem small in percentage, but this would amount to days of rice or vegetable consumption of Pangasinenses,” Moya said.

Agricultural interventions

The Department of Agriculture (DA) provided 32,000 bags of hybrid-certified palay seeds worth PHP81 million for the 32,000 hectares of disaster-affected farm lands in the province, as well as 100 bags of corn and 50 fishing boats.

It also allotted a PHP50-million fund through its Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) as loan-aid to disaster-stricken farmers and fishermen in Pangasinan.

DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and local government executives in the province directed the ACPC to make the loaning process and requirements for Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) and Survival Recovery (SURE) Assistance Program easy for the beneficiaries.

"They (farmers and fishermen) can loan from PHP5,000 to PHP25,000 through SURE without collateral and without interest and payable in three years, while in PLEA, they could loan PHP25,000 to PHP50,000 without collateral with only a 6-percent interest and 1-percent service fee," he said.

The Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) fast-tracked the processing and payment of crop insurance claims of farmers from disaster-stricken provinces, including Pangasinan, to help them get back on track.

As of Sept. 28, some 43,000 farmers from Typhoon Ompong-affected Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte in Region 1, and Abra, Benguet and Mountain Province from the Cordillera region, have already filed for the insurance claim with the PCIC.

Jaime Gomez, head of the marketing and service department of the PCIC 1 (Ilocos), said farmers from these provinces, whose crops were damaged by the typhoon, received a maximum of PHP60,000 worth of insurance claim.

Disaster risk management plan

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan recently approved the PDRRMO plan for curricular years 2019-2024, which includes integration of climate change advocacies plan in consonance with national and international standards, PDRRMO chief Rhodyn Luchinvar Oro said.

"The plan of the province increases disaster mitigation and prevention opportunities especially in the promotion of the people's welfare and security towards gender and rights-based disaster risk reduction management (DRRM)," the SP resolution said.

Key components of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan adopted in the province's plan include information and education campaign, capacity building, DRRM localization, risk assessments and plans, preparedness for emergency disaster response, and continuity of essential services and partnerships, the Provincial Information Office said in a statement.

Leptospirosis and dengue cases

The Provincial Health Office (PHO) has recorded a 67.14-percent increase in the number of dengue cases and a 140.31-percent rise in leptospirosis cases in the province.

The PHO recorded 7,777 dengue cases in the entire province from Jan. 1 to Nov. 19 this year from 4,653 cases during the same period last year, Rodhalia Binay-an, coordinator at the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the PHO, said.

In August alone, 1,990 cases of dengue were noted with 25 deaths, nine cases higher than the disease’s mortality rate in 2017, Binay-an said.

Meanwhile, Binay-an said the PHO reported 459 leptospirosis cases from Jan. 1 to Nov. 19 this year, 140.31-percent higher than the 191 cases during the same period last year.

She disclosed there were already 61 fatalities during the period, compared to last year’s three deaths.

The highest number of cases with 179 patients was recorded in August when the province experienced massive flooding due to various weather disturbances.

Provincial health officer Dr. Anna Teresa de Guzman said the PHO continuously conducts information drive through dialogues during ‘Kalusugan Caravan’ with the barangays on maintaining cleanliness of their surroundings to prevent diseases, such as leptospirosis and dengue.

Health authorities also implemented fogging and distributed treated mosquito nets and solutions for the use of the communities and schools.

Peace and order, war on drugs

The Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPO) recorded 2,048 index crimes from January 1 to Dec. 10 this year, lower by 25.7 percent compared to 2,575 on the same period last year. Non-index crimes rose by 22.3 percent with 15,778 this year compared to last year’s 12,857.

Index crimes are those against persons and property such as murder, homicide, robbery, among others, while non-index crimes are violations on special laws.

“The drop in crime rate was due to police interventions such as the simultaneous implementation of police operations against loose firearms and drugs, arrest of wanted persons, and implementation of municipal and local ordinances. Also, the conduct of regular patrolling, checkpoint or Oplan Sita, and the implementation of search warrants,” said Chief Insp. Norman Florentino, PPO chief of police community relations.

Florentino said 63 percent of the total barangays in the province are drug-cleared while 29 municipalities and one city were declared drug-cleared out of the 48 towns and cities of the province.

PPO has conducted 1,040 operations and confiscated 244.659 grams of shabu and 5,262.952 grams of marijuana.

Seal of Good Local Governance Awardee

Despite challenges, Pangasinenses still have reasons to rejoice as the province of Pangasinan and its 24 LGUs were chosen as among the recipients of the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) award this year, based from the list of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) released on October 1.

In the municipality category, Agno, Aguilar, Alcala, Anda, Balungao, Bayambang, Binalonan, Bugallon, Burgos, Calasiao, Infanta, Lingayen, Malasiqui, Mangaldan, Mangatarem, Natividad, San Manuel, San Nicolas, Sta. Maria, Tayug, Umingan, Urbiztondo and Villasis were among the awardees, she said.

Alaminos is the only city in the province chosen as SGLG awardee for city government category.

DILG provincial director Agnes De Leon said the LGUs were adjudged based on financial administration; disaster preparedness; social protection; peace and order; business friendliness and competitiveness; environmental protection; and tourism, culture and arts.

She said Pangasinan will receive PHP7 million; the city, PHP5 million; and the municipalities, PHP3.2 million as performance challenge fund (PCF), which they could use in projects, such as the construction of school buildings, rural health units, birthing facilities, water and sanitation facilities, housing and settlements, rehabilitation centers, public safety and command centers, tourism facilities, access roads, public markets, irrigation systems, cold storage facilities, ports and wharfs, post-harvest facilities, slaughter houses, evacuation facilities, and flood control projects, as well as the purchase of motor vehicles and patrol cars.

Moreover, a total of 44 out of 48 LGUs in the province were awarded with the Seal of Child-Friendly Local Governance (SCFLG) this year.

Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Emilio Samson said the seal is given to LGUs that are promoting children’s rights, development, protection, participation, and implementing child-friendly governance.

Meanwhile, Pangasinan is now a hall of famer to the National Quality Corn Achievers Award after bagging the award for three consecutive years.

The province got the highest ranking on the evaluation of DA, with 104 out of 110 score in the rating for the National Quality Corn Achiever Award.

Pangasinan produces 70 percent of all the corn production in the entire Region 1 (Ilocos) with 6.3 metric tons per hectare, or 300,330 metric tons of corn produced by the Pangasinense farmers in 2017, ranking the province as top 5 corn producer in the entire country.

The award, along with the PHP5-million cash incentive, was conferred by DA on Nov. 15 at D’ Leonor Inland Resort in Davao City.

The municipality of Alcala is also a hall of fame awardee this year as outstanding municipality, while Sto. Tomas also received its second outstanding municipality for quality corn award. Moya is also a hall of famer for outstanding provincial agriculturist.

Pangasinan is also the only recipient in Region 1 (Ilocos) of the Katangi-tanging Pagpupugay sa Lokal na Pamahalaan sa Pagsasakatuparan ng Performance Challenge Fund (PCF) in recognition of the province’s exemplary performance and in appreciation of its long-term contribution to the development of the PCF, Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator Benita Pizzaro said.

Aside from the SGLG award, the province recently won as the Best National Statistics Month province implementer in Region 1 and the nationwide Best Local Government Unit (LGU) advocate for statistics (province level), which were awarded by the Philippine Statistics Authority on October 29.

The Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce also gave special recognition to the province for being a finalist in the 2018 search for Most Business Friendly LGU (province level).

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