THE POLICE will monitor and take action against those who will be caught violating fair trade rules in the aftermath of typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) as part of its post-disaster functions.
Philippine National Police Director General Oscar D. Albayalde, in a statement released late Monday, said while special teams will continue to assist in search, rescue and recovery operations, there will also be a shift of focus “to more of law and order functions.”
“Part of our post disaster law and order functions include enforcement of regulations on fair trade imposed by the Department of Trade and Industry against hoarding, profiteering and illegal trade practices to ensure availability of consumer goods in the market,” Mr. Albayalde said.
Under the law, a price freeze for basic commodities takes effect in areas declared under a state of calamity.
Meanwhile, the National Food Authority (NFA) said that it has distributed more than 32,000 bags of rice for the typhoon victims in Regions 1 to 4, and Metro Manila as of Tuesday.
“With the damage being so severe, particularly among farmers in the northern part of Luzon, more relief operations are expected in the coming days. NFA Operations Centers in the affected regions are still monitoring the situation and always ready to provide quick response to any rice needs for typhoon victims,” the agency said in a statement.
NFA also said that its offices are now directly selling rice to consumers in provinces heavily affected by Ompong such as Cagayan, Isabela, and Kalinga.
Prices are at P27 and P32 per kilo.
On Monday, the Agriculture department reported a total damage of P14.27 billion in farms in Regions 1 to 4. Of this, 62.82% or P8.97 billion cover rice lands, which translates to a production loss of 435,997 metric tons, equivalent to 8.64 days of rice consumption in the Philippines.
Total number of hectares damaged in the whole agricultural sector was 553,704 hectares with an estimated production loss of 731,294 metric tons.
High value crops losses amounted to P788.13 million, affecting 7,913 hectares in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and in Rizal, Cagayan, and Isabela.
Livestock losses reported in CAR were 20,316 animal heads amounting to P5.51 million, while damages in irrigation facilities amount to P15.72 million.
Farmers from Bukidnon in Mindanao, particularly the towns of Impasugong, Talakag, Sumilao and Lantapan (IMTASULA), have already agreed to ship vegetables to Metro Manila to cover the shortage from the damage of the typhoon in northern Luzon.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on Tuesday that a P270 million loan window has been opened to farmers of IMTASULA to expand their farms and produce more vegetables.
The death toll in CAR, mainly due to landslides, has gone up to 63 as of Sept. 18 midnight, according to Malacañang.
In a press briefing at the Palace on Tuesday morning, Sept. 18, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. also said 42 have been reported injured and 49 are still missing.
Search and rescue operations are still ongoing and Itogon Mayor Victorio R. Palangdan said, ”The rescue effort will continue until the president orders us to stop.”
“While I said there is a 99% chance that all of them are dead, there is still that 1% chance,” he told AFP.
Citing data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) as of 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, Mr. Roque said 218,492 families composed of 893,844 persons have been affected by the typhoon in Region 1-3, CAR, CALABARZON (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon), MIMAROPA (Minondoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan), and the National Capital Region.
Of these, 43,603 families or 162,399 individuals are still in 1,780 evacuation centers.
Mr. Roque thanked all those who have been extending assistance, particularly the government agencies involved in relief operations and non-government organizations. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio, Arjay L. Balinbin, and AFP