The Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC), with partners from the DA-Regional Field Office 6, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and local government units (LGUs) has released a total of P5 million loans to 200 Ilonggo farmers and fishers under its SURE COVID-19 loan program.

The Dingle Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Dingle MPC), DA-ACPC’s partner lending conduit in the province delivered credit funds to five municipalities namely Barotac Viejo, Carles, Estancia, Balasan, and Lemery, which were not only affected by the community quarantine but were also heavily hit by Typhoon Ursula earlier this year.

“Malaking tulong ito para sa mga mangingisda na katulad ko. Meron na akong pang-simula,” said fisherfolk Armando de la Cruz of Mamhut Norte, Balasan.

“Masaya ako kasi meron na akong pang-gastos sa aking taniman. Ibibili ko ito ng abono,” rice and corn farmer Rebecca Malones said.

De la Cruz and Malones each received P25,000 loan without any interest and collateral which they will pay back in 10 years.

“Lagi naming pinapaalala sa ating mga beneficiaries na maging responsible sa pagbabayad upang magpatuloy ang mga tulong mula sa gobyerno,” said Dingle MPC General Manager Marilou Gonzaga.

“Kasama sa mga grounds namin sa pagpili ng beneficiaries na dapat may capacity to pay, good standing bilang member ng kanyang asosasyon at walang record na hindi nagbabayad ng utang,” said Municipal Agriculturist Edmundo Mendoza, Jr. of LGU Estancia.

On the other hand, Municipal Agriculturist Christon Rey Fernandez of Barotac Viejo said that it was challenging to identify eligible beneficiaries so they prioritized those who were not able to receive financial support from the government such as the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Even as the province transitioned to Modified General Enhanced Community Quarantine (MGECQ), health protocols were strictly followed during the processing of loan applications. According to DA-ACPC field staff Saerah Veloso, most of the loan releases were held in big gymnasiums while social distancing, wearing of mask and disinfecting with alcohol were consistently practiced.

The DA-ACPC continues to identify and negotiate with locally-based financial institutions to continue provision of credit support to other municipalities.