Reelectionist Senator Sonny Angara has asked government to look into the possibility of providing provisional employment to drought-stricken farmers and farmworkers under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program to help them deal with the temporary loss of income or livelihood due to the effects of El Niño which are 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.

The seasoned legislator said the infrastructure initiative – the centerpiece program of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte – aims to generate around 1 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 veteran lawmaker from Aurora who is running under the “Alagang Angara” platform.

“Many of our farmers and farmworkers have already started to look for jobs in construction sites.”

The Department of Labor earlier announced that 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.

“The government would need 800,000 to 1 million construction workers.”

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.

The senator 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 now affected 177,743 hectares of land and 164,672 farmers.

Based on previous reports, the hardest hit region is SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos), followed by Bicol, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), Western Visayas, and CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon).

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), El Niño conditions are expected to last until August from the previous forecast of June this year.


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