By Manny Piñol

The Davao City Council today approved a P31-million calamity assistance to provide 15,000 bags of rice to farmers of North Cotabato whose farms were rendered unproductive by the 4-month-long drought.

Leo Villareal, information officer of Davao City, confirmed that the measure was approved in a session today of the Sangguniang Panglungsod.

The amount will be used to purchase 15,000 sacks of rice which will be distributed to the farmers of the neighboring province of North Cotabato through the Philippine National Red Cross and the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO), Villarreal said.

Also approved during the session was an allocation of over P300-M as part of Davao City’s own preparation for the effects of El Niño on the city’s fisherfolk and farmers.

The approval of the P31-m calamity assistance for the farmers of North Cotabato affected by the drought came five days after Duterte was informed of the mass action staged by farmers and supported by militant groups in Kidapawan City.

The North Cotabato Provincial Government earlier said it could not provide the 15,000 bags demanded by the protesters and negotiations between the government and the protest leaders ended in a stalemate.

On April 1, on the day when Duterte was tentatively scheduled to meet with the rallyists, policemen dispersed the protesters.

A melee which turned bloody and deadly left two protesters and a bystander dead and dozens injured, including ill-equipped policemen who were ordered to disperse the protesters.

Villarreal said it will take a few more days before the rice calamity assistance would reach the beneficiaries as the city government will have to coordinate with he Commission on Elections (Comelec) first and then engage the Red Cross for the distribution.

He added that the rice assistance will not only be for those who participated in the protest in Kidapawan City but also for other farmers who were severely affected by the long drought.

Villarreal said details on the mode of the distribution will be announced later.

Davao City has earlier extended assistance to other areas hit by calamity, including the Leyte Provinces and Tacloban City which were ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda.

The Local Government Code allows inter-LGU assistance in times of calamity and emergencies.

(Duterte image downloaded from Facebook page Sofia Ako.)



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