THE DEATH toll from flooding and landslides prompted by persistent rains since December has climbed to 43 while eight others have been reported missing, according to Jan. 30 update of the national disaster management council.   

Rains are expected to continue this week in affected areas, including southern parts of Luzon, eastern Visayas, and parts of Mindanao, based on weather bureau PAGASAs weekly forecast.   

The downpour, ranging from light to at times heavy, is caused by a continuous shear line, or an area where warm and cold winds meet, PAGASA said.   

In other parts of Luzon, rainshowers are also expected due to the northeast monsoon.   

Almost half a million families or over two million individuals have been affected by the unusual rains, with more than 111,000 people displaced, based on the latest report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).   

A total of 85 towns and cities have declared a state of calamity, which allows for the release of emergency funds.   

NDRRMC said an estimated P103.46 million worth of assistance have been distributed so far using national and local government funds.   

The estimated cost of damage to public infrastructure has reached about P523.19 million, mostly roads, flood control structures, and schools.   

In agriculture, 44,838 farmers and fisherfolk have been affected with damage cost so far at P1.08 billion.   

The agricultural damage covers 53,707 hectares of crops and P62.04 million in livestock, poultry, and fisheries.   

Meanwhile, Senator Manuel LitoM. Lapid has filed a measure that will provide full insurance coverage to agrarian reform beneficiaries.  

“Having crop insurance is one of the effective instruments that our government can use to reduce the damages caused by natural disasters in the agricultural sector,Mr. Lapid said in Filipino in a statement on Monday. By providing additional support, not only will the income of our farmers be maintained but also the food production and food security of the country.  

Senate Bill 1766, which seeks to amend Republic Act 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, will cover all beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). 

The Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. implements the agricultural insurance program, which provides protection to farmers against losses arising from natural calamities, plant diseases, and pest infestations.  

However, Mr. Lapid said the participation of farmers in the government agricultural insurance program remains low due to high premium rates.   

One of the main reasons why the participation of our farmers in the government’s agricultural insurance program is low is the premium they have to pay. Although half of it has been subsidized by the government, the remaining amount is still a burden on our farmers,” he said. Marifi S. Jara and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan