The Department of Social Welfare and Development-Field Office X (DSWD-FO X) met with an estimated 4,000 El Nino-affected farmers from Bukidnon to discuss their request for rice assistance following loss of their livelihood due to the prolonged dry spell.
The meeting ended peacefully with both parties signing an agreement that outlines the provision of rice assistance.
During the dialogue, however, the farmers raised several issues such as the differing amount of assistance with some families receiving one sack of rice, while others only received five or ten kilos and the presence of tarpaulins of politicians during rice distribution. They also asked about the status of the calamity funds of local government units (LGUs).
The Field Office explained that DSWD has no mandate over LGUs. It also emphasized that it distributed 25-kilo packs of rice exclusively for indigenous peoples. Some 2,791 IP-families received the 25-kilo rice packs. The Field Office added that the provision of assistance to affected families is still on-going.
Many IP-farmers who participated in the dialogue said that they were not part of the list of recipients of the 25-kilo rice packs. The Field Office assured the IP members that it will conduct a validation of the list.
As agreed, the farmers group will submit the names of the 16,000 families affected by the dry spell for validation and matching with the list of beneficiaries of the DSWD.
Once the list of beneficiaries is received and validated, the Field Office will resume the distribution of sacks of rice in coordination with Ugion Bukidnon and the Dioces of Balay-Balay to ensure that the assistance will not be politicized.
Further, the DSWD committed to provide 4,000 sacks of rice for the farmers from the municipality of Quezon and other affected towns in Bukidnon.
DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said that the Department will expedite the distribution of assistance to the affected farmers. However, she asked the farmers to cooperate with DSWD and submit the needed list of beneficiaries on the agreed date of submission.
The Secretary also assured the farmers group that DSWD’s communication lines are open for any inquiry, complaint, or request for assistance.