P27-M aid to farmers; free water for ‘poor’

THE Cebu City Agriculture Department (CAD) will be spending up to P27 million to help farmers in upland barangays cope with the effects of the dry spell.

This as 70 percent of the water supply in at least 28 upland barangays is already depleted due to the hot weather, City Agriculturist Apple Tribunalo said.

Cebu City has 80 barangays.

To assist around 14,000 upland farmers, CAD is working on the procurement of hoses, water pumps and water drums with a budget of P12 million that will be sourced from the City’s annual budget.

Free water

As this developed, Mactan Rock Industries Inc. announced it would give free water to households that have no water connections.

Mactan Rock president and chief executive officer Antonio Tompar said they would give free water for the duration of the El Niño phenomenon in all their 36 desalination plants in the country, particularly Cebu.

Tompar said their desalination plant has excess water of 10-20 percent, which they will give to poor and indigent families, mostly those with no water connection and those who rely on other houses with water connections.

Water sources

Tribunalo said water sources in upland barangays like rivers, streams and deep wells are already drying up. Sitio Kab-asan in Barangay Tagbao which has a natural impounding area is already dry, she said.

Tribunalo said they are still monitoring the extent of the damage of the dry spell, but she assured the farmers can still meet the demand for vegetable supply in the lowlands.

The Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CCDRRMC) has already recommended the declaration of a state of preparedness, which will be forwarded to the City Council for formal declaration.

Wesley Vincent Yñigo, operations chief of the disaster office, also said once there is a need, they will recommend the declaration of a state of calamity in areas affected by the dry spell.

Tribunalo said they can ask for an additional P15 million once a state of calamity is declared. The amount will be used to purchase seeds and fertilizers, among others.

Social responsibility

Mactan Rock said the giving of free water would entail production cost and decreased profitability on its end. But Tompar said this is part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, adding they did the same thing in the past under similar circumstances.

He added the water from their desalination plants is potable and comparable to bottled water sold in groceries.

Tompar said their desalination plant in Mabolo, Cebu City, which supplies water to SM City, Radisson Blu Hotel and APC Center, has an average water production of 3,000 cubic meters a day and excess of about 300 cubic meters a day.

Tompar said those who want to avail themselves of the free distribution can bring pails or drums to any of their desalination plants in Mabolo near SM City, Tejero near the Blessed Sacrament Church, at the back of Waterfront Hotel-Lahug, and Mambaling near South Road Properties, Pardo.

They also have desalination plants in Mandaue City, and near Vistamar Subdivision and Waterfront Hotel-Airport in Lapu-Lapu City.

He said local government units are welcome to get excess water from their desalination plants using water tankers, provided they will distribute it to the poor people. (RVC and EOB)


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