President Rodrigo Roa Duterte listens to the updates on the aftermath of Typhoon ‘Ompong’ during a situation briefing with the members of his cabinet and local government officials held at the Provincial Capitol in Laoag, Ilocos Norte on September 16, 2018. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

ILOCOS NORTE — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Sunday, September 16, emphasized that the government’s efforts in rebuilding the Ilocos region after Typhoon ‘Ompong’ will prioritize the agricultural sector.

This directive was given during the Chief Executive’s visit to the Provincial Capitol in Laoag City.

President Duterte together with his cabinet secretaries had a situation briefing with the local officials, wherein Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos reported the assessment of losses in the region.

Based on the President’s observation, compared to the damages in Cagayan, where infrastructure was an evident priority after the typhoon, the Ilocos region’s loss was mainly on the agricultural sector.

“I’m not trying to reduce it to the barest minimum. Pero ang nakita ko except for the roofs, that few — they were ripped during the strong winds… wala masyadong damage ang lahat,” the President told Gov. Imee Marcos.

“The only problem that would require the fullest attention of [the] government is agriculture dahil marami doon, fish and all, and the farm animals nandoon. It encompasses the jurisdiction of Secretary Piñol’s area,” he added.

Damage to Ilocos Norte’s agricultural sector stands at about P1.9 billion, according to Governor Marcos. She said farmers want a quick turnaround for irrigated and non-irrigated areas.

Farmers are also asking the government for livestock such as free-range chicken, ducks, fingerlings, and fishery equipment assistance.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol mentioned that his department would help Ilocos Norte, noting that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has Quick Reaction Fund (QRF), aside from its regular funding, to help Ilocano farmers replant their crops.

Furthermore, Governor Marcos also reported that the Ilocano fisherfolk are struggling with the illegal poaching from Chinese and Vietnamese fishers in the province’s waters.

Therefore, President Duterte instructed the Philippine Coast Guard to deploy ships and personnel to Ilocos’ waters to fend off illegal fishing from foreign poachers.

“She’s also complaining about poaching sa ating internal waters. So I would suggest kay Delfin to deploy some of the Coast Guards dito banda. Papalit-palit na lang…and to apprehend them, hulihin,” the President noted.

Based on the assessment report of Governor Marcos after Typhoon ‘Ompong,’ the region managed to have zero casualties. Hence, the local government unit also imposed the ‘Lola Watch’ which provides priority to the elderly and People With Disabilities (PWDs). They are customarily given less concern when a calamity strikes.

President Duterte told the governor that his administration would like to build gym-like shelters to replace public schools as evacuation centers, and the initiative to separate the elderly, PWDs, including children, would be a good idea to give them sufficient assistance during calamity.

“Dapat separate sila. May konting diperensya, not necessarily disability, unahin talaga ‘yan sila,” he emphasized.

Moreover, during the post-typhoon briefing, Governor Marcos further stated that most parts of Ilocos lost power supply. However, according to the Department of Energy, there were several substations already operational in Ilocos Norte, and they are giving priority to the hospitals.

To further assist the Ilocanos, Pag-IBIG fund is also providing loans ranging from P5,000 to P40,000 without many requirements. The GSIS is also extending a similar credit.

Also, to help people cope, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will spearhead the cash-for-work program in the province. It will pay P210 per day for ten days to those who are interested. Likewise, for the food-for-work program, five food packs will be given for ten days (one box is equivalent to two-day food supply).

Meanwhile, the National Housing Authority (NHA) will assist in rebuilding homes through close coordination with local government units.

After visiting Ilocos Norte, President Duterte’s next stop is the Cordillera Administrative Region to see its condition after the onslaught of Typhoon ‘Ompong.’ He will also visit Benguet where an incident of landslide was reported. ### PND

Balikbayan Media Center
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