DAVAO CITY — The local government here is preparing to allocate at least P31.5 million to purchase 15,000 sacks of rice that will be donated to farmers affected by the continued drought in Cotabato province.

On Tuesday, April 5, the city council approved a motion to authorize Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to use a chunk from the local government’s calamity fund for the farmers as a form of assistance.

The proponent, Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, said the motion is needed “to utilize the quick response fund out of the disaster risk reduction fund.”

Approved on the same day, the next step for the council to enact an ordinance, and eventually purchase the sacks of rice as food assistance for the farmers.

Cotabato, also known as the Province of North Cotabato, has been placed under a state of calamity due to the dry spell brought by the El Niño phenomenon.

Atty. Johpee Agustin, assistant city administrator, said the ordinance is needed to find a way round the Commission on Elections (Comelec) rule on prohibiting political candidates from using tax payers’ money during the campaign period. Duterte is running for president in this year’s local and national elections.

“Since it is election period, we have already discussed the matter to the Commission on Elections,” said Agustin.

Agustin said that after the approval of the resolution from the Sangguniang Panglunsod, they will be requesting the Comelec for approval and exemption before the allocation would be used to procure the 15,000 sacks of rice.

“Hopefully by Friday (April 8) we can already send it (15,000 sacks of rice)…through the Philippine National Red Cross,” said Agustin. (davaotoday.com)

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