CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo approved Tuesday some P10 million to fund the release of shallow tube wells to Pampanga farmers affected by the El Niño phenomenon.

Butil Party-list Representative Agapito “Pits” Guanlao announced this after a meeting with President Arroyo and third district Representative Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. at the Mother of Good Counsel Seminary in this city on Tuesday.

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Guanlao presented to President Arroyo the call of fourth district Representative Anna York Bondoc-Sagum and several mayors on the need to provide immediate support to farmers affected by the on-going dry spell.

Earlier, a resolution was signed by farmer leaders of Angat-Maasim River Irrigation System (Amris) Irrigator’s Association and the individual resolutions of the respective Municipal Council, which declared a state of calamity in their towns.

Sagum said 14,000 hectares of rice crops irrigated by Amris irrigation system are being threatened by the drought, adding that water coming from the said irrigation system has been “reduced” by the National Water Resource Board (NWRB).

Sagum said damage to crops will reach P120 million in the said towns if measures are not undertaken.

Guanlao told Sun.Star Pampanga that President Arroyo expressed concern over the report.

“The President personally asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) to expedite the release and we could expect our farmers to receive the much needed support next week alone,” Guanlao said.

He added that the DA confirmed Tuesday the processing and release of the shallow tube wells.

Some 100 units of the shallow tube wells will be released as soon as a comprehensive list of affected farmers is finalized by the DA in coordination with local officials.

Guanlao said he is optimistic that the total rice produce for this planting season would be helped by the release of the shallow tube wells.

Butil is also asking the DA to study the immediate release of direct subsidy to farmers, may it be through financial, seed or livelihood subsidy.

The group, in a statement, said the immediate assistance to farmers should be implemented as soon as possible.

Farmers in Nueva Ecija and Bulacan are also expected to benefit from the recent fund release of the DA. (IOF)