Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo yesterday said he has ordered the Provincial Agriculture Office to assess the damage to rice and other agricultural crops and livestock in southern towns that were badly hit by floods.

He said Provincial Agriculturist Greg Paltingca will submit a report this week on the extent of the damage to agriculture in Siaton, Sta. Catalina, Bayawan and Basay.

Bayawan was the hardest hit when the Banga River overflowed and inundated majority of the low-lying areas of the city Sunday.

The local government units of Bayawan City, Sta. Catalina and Basay have each declared a state of calamity so that their calamity funds can be used for relief and rehabilitation efforts.

Degamo inspected various areas affected by flooding, and said that, if warranted, the provincial government may declare a state of calamity and allocate financial assistance to flood victims from its P21 million Quick Response Fund.

The QRF represents 30 percent of the province’s P70 million Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, as mandated by Republic Act 10121, director Adrian Sedillo of the provincial DRRMC said.

The disaster fund represents five percent of the annual budget of the province of P1.4 billion.

Under the DRRMC Law, 70 percent of the DRRM fund will be used for disaster preparedness and mitigation purposes, and 30 percent for actual calamities.

With the declaration of states of calamity by Bayawan, Sta. Catalina and Basay local governments, Degamo may propose to the PDRRMC to extend financial assistance to these LGUs from the QRF, Sedillo said.

Degamo said the province may buy additional rubber boats for search-and-rescue operations during disasters.

He said the rubber boats proved useful during the flooding in Bayawan as they were used to rescue and ferry stranded residents to evacuation centers.

The province has one rubber boat operational because the other one was damaged. The purchase of two more will cost about P650,000, Sedillo said.

Dumaguete Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria, meanwhile, said he felt vindicated when three of the city’s four rubber boats were among the first to respond to the call for help in Bayawan.

He has been criticized when he realigned P1.6 million intended for the purchase of a volume pump, to acquire the rubber boats.*JFP/JG