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P-Noy rules out rice importation in super typhoon's aftermath

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President Benigno Aquino III clarified the Philippines won't import rice even if super typhoon 'Juan' ravaged this week palay-producing areas of northern Luzon.

"The extent of damage isn't considered that great so at this point in time we're not contemplating importation," he said Thursday during a briefing in Isabela, one of the provinces that 'Juan' hit hardest.

He noted farmers were able to harvest palay before 'Juan' slammed into Isabela and pounded its way across northern Luzon so the country's rice supply is still sufficient to meet domestic demand.

On Thursday, Mr. Aquino flew to northern Luzon to inspect conditions there after 'Juan' pummeled the area.

He assured government will prioritize assistance for calamity-stricken provinces there.

Such assistance includes seed and fertilizer subsidies for affected farmers.

Government is also looking into possible cash-for-work arrangements for victims of 'Juan' which experts identified as among the world's strongest typhoons.

Latest available data show 'Juan' affected nearly 700,000 people in Isabela province alone, the President noted.

He said government will exert all possible efforts to restore power supply and to clear arteries in areas 'Juan' ravaged.

Mr. Aquino believes government's calamity funds must be used solely for emergency situations.

This will help ensure funds and other logistics are available for helping address such situations, he pointed out.

He said funds for non-emergencies must be sourced instead from the General Appropriations Act.

These non-emergencies include rehabilitation of areas that suffered damages from previous calamities, he noted.

(PNA)




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