Manila, Philippines – “Even prior to the landing of typhoon Ambo, poor peasant families in areas declared as general community quarantine, still need social amelioration as obviously they were not able to attend to their farms and other sources of livelihood during the lockdown. Now, with the present devastation, we call the Duterte government not to exclude poor peasant families in GCQ areas, such as Eastern Visayas, Bikol and Southern Tagalog regions from the SAP distribution, moreover, they should be assisted to pump-prime agricultural production,” Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women National Chairperson, said in a press statement.

Provinces in the Samar island, which are among 10 poorest provinces in the country were first to be devastated, with some houses and structures being damaged, and major rivers flooding. Around 30 to 40% of the total families below P312 to P392 per day, amid near 90% or 3.9 million of the population are rural. In Bikol region, rural population is more than three fourths of the total or more than 4.4 million. The poorest 340,000 families in the region live under P300 per day.

“There should be no debate on whether poor peasants in the affected regions need assistance, when they actually need, in any normal situation sans pandemic and typhoons. We should also note they are usual victims of typhoons, and they are yet to recover from the damages brought about by past calamities,” she said.

According to the Department of Agriculture, around 266,000 hectares of rice and corn farms were at risk due to the typhoon. Amihan and its regional chapter in Bikol were dismayed as the peasant women and their families have not yet recovered from natural and man-made calamities such from typhoon Usman in December 2018; el niño in whole 2019; typhoon Tisoy in December 2019; the African Swine Flu (ASF) and bird flu livestock and poultry epidemic, and yet they faced the economic impact of the lockdown.

“We demand the DA to provide production subsidies for the affected poor peasant families to recover, and it should support their inclusion in the distribution of social amelioration by the DSWD,” she pushed.

Amihan earlier demanded the P10,000 cash assistance and P15,000 production subsidy for peasant families affected by the lockdown.

Finally, Amihan urged the people to support the affected peasant sectors in the said regions, as they are frontliners of food security in the country. ###

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