Senatorial candidate Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian  yesterday asked government to stop downplaying the serious effects of the El Niño episode and  instead report to the people what concrete steps have been taken to help farmers affected by the long drought.

Gatchalian, senior member of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, said the Department of Agriculture and Department of Social Welfare and Development owes the public a report on what they have done to address hunger and lack of sufficient income that have stalked thousands of Filipinos living in El Niño affected areas.

Based on the data released by DA as of April 2, the total cost of agricultural damage suffered by the country from the ongoing El Niño and several pest infestations already reached P6.6 billion, up by 24 percent from the last month’s update  which was only at P5.3 billion.

The  amount is equivalent to a volume of 520,978 metric tons (MT) of production loss which affected a total of 181,687 farmers and a total area of 224,834 hectares (ha).

“Of the total 181,687 farmers affected by the El Niño, we would like to know how many of these farmers have received actual help from the DA and the DSWD since both agencies claim that they have not been remiss in their duties of giving assistance to these poor peasants,” said Gatchalian senatorial candidate of the Nationalist People’s Coalition