Typhoon Juan Affects Livelihood of Residents of Ilocos Sur

Joan Garcia

VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur-As the storm surge caused by typhoon Juan continues to affect the coastal areas of the province, the livelihood of residents of at least nine barangays in Santa and Candon remains in peril.

Last October 20, Ernesto Lopez Jr. and his fellow fishermen were still trying to salvage their fingerlings as the storm surge was happening. According to Lopez, they cannot sell their produce anymore as it is still too small. Lopez said the fish pens were their only source of livelihood.

Awanen a dagitoy fish pen ditoy, amin a tilapia natayen. Adu ti naperwisyo kanyami.” (All our fish pens are damaged and all the tilapias are dead. Many among us have been affected.), said Lopez.

Lopez is only one of the hundreds of fishermen in the six coastal barangays of Candon who are affected by the deaths of the fish in their pens, which were caused by the salt water that reached their cages during the height of the storm.

According to Samuel Joso, president of the organization of fisher folks in Candon and secretary of barangay Patpata Primero, 60 fish pens were damaged affecting 50 households with 117 individuals in his barangay and 150 fish pens with 100 households in Patpata Segundo with an estimated cost of P1 million ( $23 thousand) in damages.

The other coastal barangays of Paypayad, Darapidap, Tamurong Primero, Tamurong Segundo and Caterman, also in Candon, had their fish pens destroyed with an estimated Php 2.9 million ($67 thousand) worth in damages.

Meanwhile, in the barangays Pasungol, Bucalag and Tabucolan of Santa, Ilocos Sur, a total number of 1315 individuals were affected by typhoon Juan as they were not able to fish for more than a week.

When the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) issued storm warning signal 3 for Ilocos Sur last October 15, Barangay Captain Genaro Cancho of Pasungol prohibited his constituents to fish since typhoon Juan was reportedly approaching.

Most of the residents of Barangay Pasungol are fisher folks with only 10 percent of the total population of 590 individuals engaged in farming. According to Cancho, after the storm subsides, another week is needed before they could fish again.

However, not only residents of coastal areas are in danger of losing their livelihood as agricultural crops were also damaged due to typhoon Juan.

In barangay Sevilla, Sta. Cruz, a total of P758,760 ($17.5 thousand) worth of rice crops were damaged affecting 50 families, including 54 children. In the nearby barangay of Casilagan, 27 families lost their rice crops, according to Barangay Captain Isagani Ranan.

Damage to Property

Based on the initial Damages, Needs and Capacities Assessment (DNCA) report conducted by Kabataan Partylist Ilocos Sur, Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (Stop Exploitation) and Ilocos Center for Research, Empowerment and Development (ICRED), a total of 24 houses were totally damaged and 60 were partially damaged in four towns of Ilocos Sur.

The houses in the three barangays in Santa are located near the sea wall, which has not been repaired since previous typhoons damaged it.

Eighty percent of the total population of Pasungol have evacuated to their relatives who also live in Santa. Meanwhile 20 adults and 5 children are currently staying at their barangay hall.

In barangay Ronda, Sta. Lucia, the house of Ernesto Binungcan was damaged when banana trees fell at his nipa hut.

Relief e\Efforts

According to Zaldy Alfiler, Secretary General of Stop Exploitation, the DNCA report was an essential step in determining the conduct of relief operations in the affected areas.

In the towns where the DNCA was conducted, only the local government unit of Santa was identified as having given relief goods to their constituents. Even the provincial government has yet to undergo relief operations in the said areas.

“Aside from damaged houses, the damage in the crops, fish pens and the disruption in the livelihood activities of the affected residents are a heavy burden. The damaged crops would already result to less harvest for this season, thus, food shortage is a possibility. For the coastal areas, since the fisher folks cannot resume their fishing yet, the only source of food would be the relief goods that would be given to them.”, Alfiler said.

“We are calling for donations and volunteers from concerned individuals and groups so that the immediate needs of the affected individuals could be addressed. Nonetheless, we are also encouraging the victims of the typhoon to assert that their long term needs. Their food security should be taken cared of by the local government.”, Alfiler added. (Bulatlat.com)

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