DAR’s Help Came First

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dar web news pix 1 feb. 11 2014 400BALANGIGA, EASTERN SAMAR – Mayor Viscuso De Lira acknowledged the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) as the first national government agency to respond to his town’s restoration and rehabilitation needs after super-typhoon “Yolanda” caused massive destruction in Samar and Leyte on November 8 last year.

De Lira made this statement when Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes visited this town two months after the typhoon and met agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) and other farmer-leaders from the agrarian reform communities (ARC) here and adjacent Lawa-an town for a consultation dialogue to identify priority needs to be included in the restoration and rehabilitation plan for devastated ARCs.

De los Reyes disclosed that there is an additional budget for the typhoon-ravaged areas. He wanted to verify the survey conducted earlier and hear from the affected ARBs themselves what their immediate needs are as well as see for himself the extent of damage that would justify the speedy release of funds and likewise make proper coordination with the concerned local government units (LGUs).dar web news pix 2 feb. 11 2014 400

Some needs however, will be sourced out from other government agencies and organizations, he added.

Restoration and rehabilitation activities will come in when relief operations, which usually last for four months, are over. DAR is now looking forward to the next 18 months as recovery period for the affected farmers.

Among the priority needs the farmers presented during the two-hour dialogue were: repair of their houses and post-harvest facilities, planting materials and other farm inputs, clearing of their lots, repair of irrigation system and livelihood opportunities.

De los Reyes also visited the towns of Basey and Marabut in Samar and met groups of farmer-leaders and ARBs to discuss plans on restoration and rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, Regional Director Eliasem Castillo explained that his office is prioritizing those hardest hit ARCs and also disclosed that DAR is currently negotiating with other international organizations to source out assistances for these areas.

Castillo encouraged the farmers to rise above the challenges and be self-reliant so as not to be forever dependent on relief.