Reelectionist Senator Sonny Angara asked the government to look into the possibility of providing provisional employment to drought-stricken farmers and farmworkers under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program to help them deal with the temporary loss of income or livelihood due to El Niño phenomenon that is expected to be felt until August this year.
“Habang naghihintay tayo ng kongkreto at pangmatagalang solusyon sa tagtuyot na taon-taon nating nararanasan, mahalagang mabigyan natin ng pansamantalang tulong ang ating mga magsasaka at manggagawang bukid na kasalukuyang nakararanas ng matinding gutom sanhi ng labis na tagtuyot sa kanilang lugar,” Angara said.
Angara said the infrastructure initiative—the centerpiece program of the Duterte administration—aims to generate around one million jobs annually in the medium-term and presents a silver lining for farmers who belong to 60 percent of the poorest of the poor in the country.
“Many of our farmers and farmworkers have already started to look for jobs in construction sites to earn a living after losing their crops to the ongoing dry spell. I hope they can be accommodated in the Build, Build, Build program,” said the lawmaker from Aurora who is running under the platform “Alagang Angara.”
The Department of Labor had announced that the government would need 800,000 to 1 million construction workers to fill in the labor gaps of its priority infrastructure program, where a total of 75 flagship projects with a combined total of $36 billion in investments are to be put up in various parts of the country.
These workers are needed for the construction of six airports, nine railways, three bus rapid transits, four seaports and 32 roads and bridges in Negros Oriental, Leyte, Cebu Bohol and Misamis Occidental, among others.
Angara has earlier appealed to government to dispatch immediate help to farmers who are now bearing the brunt of El Niño-induced drought. He said many farmers, especially those in food-growing areas in the country, are in urgent need of assistance whether in the form of cash, food aid or alternative livelihoods.
He made the appeal after several provinces and cities in the country have been placed under state of calamity due to the impact of El Niño.
Latest data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) showed that agricultural damage caused by El Niño has already reached P5.05 billion.
The NDRRMC also reported that the dry spell has affected 177,743 hectares of land and 164,672 farmers.
Based on previous reports, the hardest hit region is SOCCSKSARGEN, followed by Bicol, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, MIMAROPA, Western Visayas, and CALABARZON.
According to the country’s state weather bureau PAGASA, El Niño conditions are expected to last until August from the previous forecast of June this year.