REPORTED deaths from storm Agaton, with international name Megi, has reached 172 while 110 were still missing, according to the national disaster management agency’s April 17 update.
Agaton brought several days of moderate but continuous rains mostly in the Visayas, the country’s central islands, and parts of southern Philippines, which triggered flooding and landslides that buried communities downhill.
Most of those who died were due to landslides in the province of Leyte in Eastern Visayas, with at least 110 in Baybay City and more than 50 in Abuyog town.
In Western Visayas, at least 11 people drowned in northern parts of Iloilo and in Capiz.
Search, rescue, and retrieval operations were continuing in the most devastated areas while relief services were also ongoing for 396,000 people displaced, with more than half staying across 909 evacuation centers.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte went to Leyte and Capiz on Friday and Saturday, respectively, where he promised survivors of continued food aid for “as long as necessary” and assistance for rebuilding homes or possible relocation.
“(T)he government is here, all the agencies of government is here. All your worries about food, that won’t be a problem at all. For as long as you are hungry and you don’t have any resources or haven’t been relocated, food will be provided. That won’t be a problem,” he said in Visayan in Baybay on Friday, based on a transcript emailed by the Presidential communications office.
Initial reports submitted to the national disaster council show 670 houses were totally destroyed while 9,723 were partially damaged.
Meanwhile, farm sector damage has risen to P718 million, according to the Department of Agriculture’s continuing assessment of Agaton’s impact.
Damage and losses were reported in the regions of Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Soccsksargen and Caraga. There were 12,151 farmers affected, with volume of production loss at 41,580 metric tons (MT) and 17,925 hectares of agricultural areas.
Affected commodities include rice, corn, high value crops, and livestock.
Rice was the most affected crop with P672.2 million in losses across 17,318 hectares.
This was followed by high-value crops, such as banana and cacao, at P24.7 million or 576 MT and corn at P21.1 million or 883 MT.
The agriculture department said it is continuing to conduct the assessment of damage and losses in the agri-fisheries sector.
It also said it is providing assistance to affected farmers and fishers, including: rice, corn and assorted vegetable seeds, and drugs and biologics for livestock and poultry.
It is also using the Survival and Recovery Program of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, available funds from Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation, and the Quick Response Fund for the rehabilitation of affected areas. — Marifi S. Jara and Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson