BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday welcomed the declaration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. placing Western Visayas under a state of calamity for six months.
It gives now the local government units the opportunity to access their calamity funds, Lacson said.
Severe Tropical Storm Paeng brought P256.8 million in damage to agriculture, fisheries and irrigation facilities alone in Negros Occidental.
“We just have to comply with the mandate of the President declaring the whole Region 6 under a state of calamity,” Lacson said.
Based on the report submitted by Provincial Agriculturist Edmundo Raul Causing to Gov. Lacson, it said that rice was worst hit with P187,482,232. 35 worth of damage, high-value crops – P2,985,810; corn – P1,641,324; fisheries – P14 698,510 and irrigation – P50,000.
Thirty of the 31 LGUs in Negros Occidental, excluding highly urbanized Bacolod City, were affected by the trough of Tropical Storm Paeng.
Based on their partial reports from various LGUs, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Merle Garcia reported that 107 houses were destroyed, while 936 others were partially damaged in Negros Occidental.
Garcia however said the figures submitted by LGUs have yet to be validated.
On the other hand, Lacson said he still trusts the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), even as the state weather bureau comes under strong criticism over its forecasting following the onslaught of TS “Paeng”.
Lacson said he personally thought that “Paeng” would hit the upper portion of Luzon. But when the storm got closer, it became clear that “Paeng’s” storm radius would cover almost the whole country.
“It is not the first time that [PAGASA’s forecast] was quite inaccurate, although as it was happening, they began giving out the right information,” he added.*