BAGUIO CITY—While other local governments scramble to get state help to feed their people, the town of Sadanga in Mountain Province has declined food relief from the national government so that its less fortunate neighbors could receive assistance during the Luzon lockdown due to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Mayor Gabino Ganggangan said they waived food allocations meant for his town since he could ask the kadangyan (rich families) in every village to sustain the communities by opening their agamang (rice granaries) should the lockdown be extended.
A rice farming town, Sadanga (population: 12,000) also grows root crops and legumes. It has also been locked down to keep COVID-19 at bay.
No one has been infected among its residents, Ganggangan said, adding that the town used to have more than 20 persons under monitoring and a “few patients” under investigation for the virus.
“But they had tested negative and completed their 14-day quarantine,” he said.
“We are all used to living spartan lives,” the mayor told the Inquirer to explain why he asked the town’s granary owners to ready their stocks to feed residents under a worst-case scenario.
Ganggangan said he made the decision after he made an estimate of how much food was available in the town.
He did not say how much food allocations were turned away but stressed that his position should not affect cash grants being prepared for Cordillera’s poorest households.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development has been preparing food and monetary grants for nearly 4 million beneficiaries of the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), including the 64,000 in the Cordillera region.
Ganggangan drew attention in a social media post by asserting that indigenous social customs require the more affluent members of Sadanga to share their food with the rest of the tribe, particularly neighbors in distress “during hard times or economic crises.”
“Let the national government feed those more needy urban poor in the cities and the less fortunate in other areas who can’t sustain themselves,” he said.
He added: “I assure [everyone] no family shall go hungry in our municipality even during these hard times. These are worst-case scenarios and these are how we can prepare for these. I wrote that post to alert my constituents so they can be ready.”
In Baguio City, women in Purok 27, San Carlos Heights, at Barangay Irisan turned their backyards and an adjacent vacant lot into vegetable gardens to make sure they would have food on the table should the quarantine take longer than a month. —WITH A REPORT FROM KARLSTON LAPNITEN
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