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Adding insult to injury

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THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture is offering zero-interest loans to farmers and fishermen who lost crops, livestock, and livelihood to the Taal Volcano eruptions.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that under the government’s Survival and Recovery program, farmers and fishermen can take out a P25,000 loan payable in three years with zero interest.

Already a pittance considering the initial damage across the Calabarzon region the eruptions have caused: DAR itself estimating it at P577.4 million covering some 2,700 hectares of farmland and some 2,000 animals, the loan of P25,000 – its being zero-interest notwithstanding – makes a grievous insult to those it intends to help.

That is when arrayed against what government has been dishing out to people not even in any dire strait, indeed, in the best of times, to wit:

P50,000 cash gift to each birthday celebrator among the Philippine Marine contingents feted by President Duterte at the very same time the volcano was vomiting devastation upon Batangas and its environs; and earlier, P150,000 Christmas bonuses Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano doled out among the House staff ; even much earlier, the provision of executive jest for police and Army top brass.

Not to mention the multi-billion-peso intel funds awarded by the House to the Office of the President.

Truly reprehensible is the insult this regime has heaped upon the victims of the Taal Volcano eruptions with Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año issuing a “…call on the public to donate clean drinking water, food, emergency medicines and other basic essentials (e.g., tents, mats, blankets, water containers, cooking pots, etc.) for the use of those currently in evacuation centers. The donations may be coursed through the DSWD or directly to the LGUs.”

This, even as the ink of Duterte’s signature on the P4.1-trillion 2020 budget was yet to dry. This, even as the regime has, since its accession to power in 2016, consistently and epically slashed the calamity fund, starting off with that gargantuan P23-billion decrease from the P38.9 billion of its predecessor.

The people, eruption victims and otherwise, deserve neither these insults nor this government.

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