Isolated Cebu town faces food shortage

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The provincial government of Cebu is sending food aid to the island town of Pilar starting Friday, July 10, as the area faced food shortage due to the suspension of sea travel the past few days.

Mayor Jesus Fernandez said the residents had been asking for help since retailers no longer have the merchandise to sell. They were unable to shop in urban centers to replenish basic commodities such as rice.

Travel to and from Pilar town and the entire Camotes Group of Islands have been suspended following the capsizing of MB Kim Nirvana-B in the waters of Ormoc City, killing at least 61 people on July 2. The Philippine Coast Guard has suspended the travel of small ferry boats because of the sea disaster.

The state weather bureau has also issued gale warnings over Central Visayas since Friday, July 3, because of the consecutive storms hitting the region. This resulted in the cancellation of sea travel and fishing activities around the region.

According to Ethel Natera, public information officer of the Cebu provincial government, at least 500 food packs were on its way Friday morning to the Ponson Island in the Camotes Group where Pilar is located.

Travel has been allowed for bigger ferry boats for Camotes. The recent travel suspension only covers vessels below 250 gross tons.

The shipment from the capitol contains rice, sardines, water, and noodles. Each pack has 3 kilos of rice, 4 cans of sardines, and 2 packs of noodles.

Natera said another 500 packs is on the port in Danao City, waiting for the next ferry schedule. On Saturday, July 11, an additional 3,200 packs will be sent to Pilar.

Pilar is a 5th class municipality and one of the towns. It has a population of at least 12,000. Residents rely generally on fishing for livelihood. –