Message-ID: <>
Date: Sun, 5 Apr 1998 16:43:16 -0400
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <>
From: Alex G Bardsley <bardsley@ACCESS.DIGEX.NET>

Subject: Fwd: PH: Nearly 1 million 'starving' (StraitsTimes)
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Nearly 1 million Filipinos ‘starving’

AFP, The Straits Times, [5 April 1998]

GENERAL SANTOS (Philippines)—Nearly a million people in the southern Philippines face severe food shortages due to crop failures, government relief agencies here said, as President Fidel Ramos ordered emergency rice rations for drought-stricken areas.

Mr Ramos ordered a presidential aide for the south, Mr Jesus Dureza, to distribute, starting yesterday, one sack of rice per affected family, a presidential-palace statement said.

The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council and the Chamber of Commerce in this southern city on Mindanao island said 149,330 families, totalling about 896,000 people, in the provinces of Sarangani, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat were hard hit by a prolonged dry spell induced by the El Nino weather phenomenon.

The council said crops had failed on 35,851 ha of land used to grow rice and corn.

El Nino involves a warming of the upper Pacific Ocean, causing severe drought or flooding in East Asia and altering climatic conditions around the globe.

Mr Dureza said a group of farmers from Sultan Kudarat had threatened to ransack three grain silos maintained by the government's National Food Authority after local governments in the area withheld loans to residents after their harvests failed.

The Chamber of Commerce warned Mr Ramos in a letter about an acute food shortage brought about by the El Nino which is the worst ever to hit this country. Your people in the countryside are starving and can barely eat a meal a day.

They have even resorted to selling their most-valued working animals just to survive. Even if the El Nino were to abate this May, the food shortage will still continue into the next five months or so, the letter said.