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DA pegs El Niño damage to crops at P1.3B

The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday said that damage to agriculture caused by the ongoing El Nino has only reached P1.3 billion.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) earlier reported that damages have already reached over P2 billion.

"As far as we are concerned, as of our last collation of data, ang total damage lang is P1.3 billion," Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel "Manny" Pinol said in a radio interview.

"We're not saying it's inaccurate but what we're saying is that we have to validate this, cause as far as the DA is concerned, eh hindi pa ganon ang numbers namin," he added.

"Let's be careful about the numbers coming from the LGUs because you have to understand, malapit na ang eleksyon at alam mo, puwede mong gamitin 'yung calamity fund for political purpose and you can justify that by declaring a huge damage report," Piñol said.

For the part of the DA, it maintained the El Nino damages at P1.33 billion as of March 18, 2019. This covers 73,348 metric tons (MT) of losses in terms of volume, and 70,353 hectares in terms of area affected.

"Mayroong sariling pamamaraan ang DA to determine the extent of damage because you have to understand na mayroon kaming insurance coverage, so very accurate 'yung aming collation of damage report sapagkat doon namin binabase 'yung aming release ng insurance payments," said Pinol. —Jon Viktor Cabuenas/NB, GMA News