BALANGIGA, Eastern Samar, January 28 (PIA) - Mayor Viscuso De Lira acknowledged the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for being 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 community (ARC) barangays 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 and that according to him 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 and feel the urgency in order to effectively defend the speedy release of funds and likewise make proper coordination with the concerned local government units (LGUs).
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.
Deputy National Project Director of the second phase of the Agrarian Reform Communities Project (ARCP-2) Herman Ongkiko announced during the dialogue that initially the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has already committed coconut seedlings and camote cuttings for the intercropping.
On the same day, de los Reyes and party had also been to the town of Basey in Samar meeting another group of farmer-leaders and ARBs from Marabut and this town for the same purpose.
Meanwhile, in Basey, Samar, Mayor Igmedio Ponferrada assisted the Secretary and thanked the latter for including his town among the priority areas.
The following day, though the Secretary left for Cebu, Ongkiko together with officials from the Bureau of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development (BARBD) in DAR Central Office and local DAR officials proceeded to conduct the same activity in Julita and Palo towns in Leyte.
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.
He emphasized during the forum that DAR is helping them rise to be self-reliant and not to be dependent forever on relief. (PIA 8)