Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan. 31, 2006

P1B released for areas ruined by 'Agaton'
By Anselmo Roque, Tonette Orejas

CABANATUAN CITY - President Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday announced the release of a total of P1 billion to the National Disaster Coordinating Council for flood control infrastructure projects and agricultural assistance in calamity-prone areas this year.

Renato Diaz, presidential adviser for North Luzon, said Ms Arroyo announced the P500-million budget for additional flood-mitigating measures at the end of a meeting with local officials of Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija and Aurora at the Philippine Army's Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

Before inaugurating the Gapan city hall also in Nueva Ecija, the President said she was releasing another P500 million for seedlings and other forms of farm support to farmers who suffered losses.

"I already called Secretary (Romulo) Neri of budget and authorized him to release the amount. We want to help our farmers as soon as possible," she said in a brief message in Gapan City where she officiated in the inauguration of the city hall.

She said she was aware of the devastation brought by flooding and rains to the province.

The President said she was sure that Nueva Ecija, among others, will receive a big amount from the funds.

Reports from the provincial agricultural officer in Nueva Ecija said P463 million worth of crops were damaged in the province.

Isabela reported losses amounting to P452 million. The other provinces which reported damages were Cagayan and Aurora.

Diaz and military officers said reports that Ms Arroyo went to Fort Magsaysay for a loyalty check on soldiers were not true.

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