Capitol to give LGUs P3M cash aid
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Capitol to give LGUs P3M cash aid

CEBU Province is officially under a state of calamity, as of Thursday, May 23, 2024.

As a result, local government units (LGUs) in the province, excluding the highly urbanized cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, will each receive a P3 million subsidy from the Capitol.

During this period, municipalities and component cities will have access to calamity and quick relief funds to boost programs and projects to mitigate the impacts of the prolonged drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon.

There will also be a price freeze on all basic goods for 60 days, according to officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7.

After meeting with municipal mayors at the Capitol on Thursday, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia signed Executive Order 9 series of 2024, declaring a state of calamity in Cebu.

The Provincial Board (PB) already passed a resolution last Monday, May 20, supporting the move.

“It’s obvious nga bisan pagmouwan (that even if it rains), the damage has been done already,” Garcia said during the meeting that was streamed live on Thursday on the official social media arm of the Provincial Government.

Garcia urged local chief executives to prioritize the distribution of assistance in the form of food packs and other basic needs, instead of cash assistance to their constituents.

In the same meeting, Department of Agriculture 7 Executive Director Angel Enriquez told the governor that 13,589 farmers in the province have been affected by the El Niño.

Based on submitted reports from 44 LGUs, she said the weather phenomenon caused P194 million in damages to crops and livestock production.

Losses incurred among high-value crops alone amounted to P114 million, she said.

Provincial Agriculturist Roldan Saragena, for his part, said they recorded P179 million worth of damaged crops, affecting 13,438 farmers.

They also recorded P1.9 million in damages to fisheries and aquafarms, affecting 537 farmers, and P3.9 million in damages to livestock and poultry, affecting 414 farmers.

In total, the Provincial Agriculture Office recorded almost P185 million in damages, affecting 14,389 farmers in 33 LGUs that have submitted their reports.

These figures will increase as nine LGUs have recently submitted their reports, he said.

During the governor’s meeting with the mayors, they discussed the extent of the damage and possible assistance to farmers and affected families.

The Provincial Government pledged P3 million in cash assistance to all the LGUs in the province, except for the three highly urbanized cities.

Garcia announced that the LGUs whose mayors stayed until the very end of the three-hour meeting would receive an additional P3 million for their infrastructure projects.

She also said the Capitol would provide P3 million for the legislative aid fund of PB members in attendance.

According to Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, the declaration of a state of calamity allows for the release of money for unanticipated expenses resulting from the unfavorable consequences of the calamity.

On Friday, May 24, DTI 7 officials warned establishments caught violating the 60-day price freeze as they caught be held liable for taking advantage of consumers.

According to the Price Act, violators will face a penalty of imprisonment for one year to 10 years, or a fine ranging from P5,000 to P1 million or both, at the discretion of the court.

Trade Chief Alfredo Pascual said prices of basic necessities are automatically frozen at their prevailing prices once a state of calamity is declared in an area.

Pascual was in Cebu to lead the town hall meeting attended by the micro, small and medium enterprises from the Central, Western and Eastern Visayas.

“We are ready with our SRP (suggested retail price) and that will be published. We expect it to be out next week,” said DTI 7 Director Ma. Elena Arbon.

The DTI reminds business establishments to comply with the price freeze directive.

“We enjoin our business owners to respect the price freeze. It will only be for 60 days and after that, it will be lifted,” she said.

Consumers are enjoined to report retailers, distributors and manufacturers that sell basic necessities above their prevailing prices.

DTI 7 already implemented a price freeze in Tudela and Toledo City, which declared a state of calamity on April 1 and 8, respectively. / EHP, CDF, KOC

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