MANILA, Philippines — As government officials downplays the impact of the Taal volcano phreatic eruption to the economy, with National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Chief Ernesto Pernia estimating the loss of P7.63 billion of gross value added (GVA) and Department of Agriculture pegging the damage to agriculture P3.06 billion, former Anakpawis lawmaker Ariel Casilao urged to immediately indemnify farmers as the amounts they have mentioned are essentially the sources of income of the sector.
Pernia said that the GVA losses is just 0.3 percent of the Gross Regional Domestic Product of Calabarzon region or not enough to make a dent on the growth rate.
“The bureaucrats are obviously treating damages as statistical numbers, without the consideration of the worsening miseries of affected farmers and other rural-based sectors from Batangas and Cavite. Each day a farmer family stays at the evacuation and fails to attend to their crops and livestock, their losses are mounting up and eventually they will be engrossed in unrecoverable amount of debt. Thus, we are calling for their immediate indemnification or compensation to their losses,” Casilao said in a press statement.
Based on available government data, 7 out of 10 of Batangas province’s population is rural.
Talisay town’s rural population reaches to 86 percent, while Agoncillo’s at 95 percent, Lemery 89 percent, Mataas Na Kahoy 90 percent , Alitagtag 84 percent, and Cuenca 96 percent.
Around half of Tanauan City’s population belong to the rural area.
“Government officials fail to recognize that the impact on vulnerable sectors such as farmers and fisherfolk, is grossly serious, and they do not possess any reserved resources or savings, but totally rely on the daily activity of farming and fishing. Staying at evacuation centers, with the uncertainty on their future is an added moral distress to the victims,” he said.
Based on government data, in 2018, the province was the top producer of 120,000 metric tons of chicken eggs or 22 percent of the country’s total production, 102,000 metric tons of chicken or 6% of the total, ranking 5th in the country, 174,000 MT of pork or 8 percent ranking 2nd, 15,000 MT of beef or 6 percent also 2nd and 8th in mango production.
In sugar, the province is the 6th top producer at more than 156,000 metric tons.
“While the direct impact of the eruption is still at present within the 14-kilometer radius of Taal volcano, the government should already by now have a contingency plan on the possible ruin of the province’s agricultural production, starting with the immediate recovery of main productive force the Batangas farming sector,” he said. (STACY ANG/IAMIGO/Currentph.com)