With the proactive effort of the Executive Director, Dr. Cheryl L. Eusala, recognizing the severe impact of Pestalotiopsis Leaf Fall Disease (PLFD), PRRI submitted a proposal to DOLE’s Central Office, advocating for the inclusion of the rubber industry in the Tulong Panghanapbuhay para sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) program. This proposal, which underscored the dire need for support, was fortunately approved for Region 9, encompassing Zamboanga del Norte.

This is such feat of work amongst government offices such as; Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PRRI), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Municipal Agricultural Office (MAO), and the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) that came together to offer help and support for our beloved rubber farmers who are affected by PLFD. This collaborative project took place from May 7-9, 2024, across various locations in Zamboanga del Norte, aiming to provide both immediate relief and long-term solutions.

The staff of the PRRI-RTESD Team were designated to various locations and they were the ones who led the conduct of the orientation. During the program, DOLE personnel diligently distributed essential protective gear, including field hats and long-sleeve shirts, to rubber farmers. These provisions aim to safeguard the health of farmers as they continue their work amidst the challenging conditions caused by PLFD. Additionally, DOLE provided a comprehensive overview of the TUPAD program, detailing the validation process for the master list of target beneficiaries and explaining the operational specifics of the 10-day employment program.

PRRI’s role here is to enlighten beneficiaries on the control and mitigation strategies to combat PLFD. This aims to equip the farmers with the knowledge and tools needed to address the disease, thereby helping to restore and sustain rubber production in the affected areas.

The TUPAD program is set to benefit a significant number of rubber farmers across various municipalities in Zamboanga del Norte. Specifically, the target beneficiaries include 493 rubber workers/farmers distributed as follows: 126 in Godod, 86 in Liloy, 37 in Siayan, 75 in Leon Postigo, 122 in Tampilisan, and 47 in Kalawit.

The successful approval and implementation of the TUPAD program in Region 9 is a testament to the collaborative efforts and support of DOLE, PESO, MAO, and MLGU and of course, PRRI.

Together, we give thanks to the Bagong Pilipinas initiative campaign of President Bongbong Marcos, in which the rubber farmers were provided with such immediate relief. We are hopeful and positive, looking forward to the long-term recovery and sustainability of the rubber industry in Zamboanga del Norte.