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Basilan under state of calamity

COTABATO CITY — Drought-stricken Basilan province in the Southern Philippines was placed under a state of calamity on Wednesday, setting to motion initiatives to address the devastating effects El Niño over the last two months.

Basilan Governor Hadjiman H. Salliman and Vice Gov. Yusop T. Alano separately confirmed the decision of the Provincial Board based on multi-sector recommendations for emergency fund releases to rescue ailing agricultural areas experiencing a dry spell.

So far, the drought has destroyed thousands of hectares of corn and rice farms in Basilan, they said.

Given that agriculture is a major source of income for residents of the 11 towns and two cities of Basilan, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office also backed the state of calamity declaration.

Apart from losses to agriculture, which included a dwindling of production of latex in rubber plantations, the dry spell and sizzling temperatures have caused six wildfires within the last three weeks, razing no less than 500 hectares of bushlands and rubber plantations. — John Felix M. Unson

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