El Niño-affected LGUs urged to declare state of calamity

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The enticing view of El Nido beachfront in Palawan. (Harthwell Capistrano / Palawan Daily News).
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Former Secretary Francis Tolentino urged local government units (LGUs) severely affected by the prolonged dry spell also known as El Niño, to declare their respective towns and cities under the state of calamity to utilize funds from their Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF).

Speaking before local officials, barangay leaders and supporters at the City Coliseum on Thursday, Tolentino, has been designated by President Rodrigo Duterte to head several task forces during calamities specifically when the alert level was hightened in Mayon Volcano and during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong in Northern Luzon.

“Kaya mga LGUs ay mag-declare na kayo ng state of calamity to utilize your five percent calamity fund,” he said.

By utilizing the LGUs’ LDRRMF, it will help implement timely measures and interventions to minimize the impact of El Niño.

LDRRMF can be used in various activities as reflected in its plans and as well as to various phases of activities like disaster preparedness, disaster prevention and mitigation, disaster response and disaster rehabilitation and restoration.

He said that farmers and fishermen are among the most affected sector.

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He explained that if the prolonged dry spell worsens it will cause and pose health threats, crop loss in agriculture, and other threats.

“Seryoso ang banta na ito, ibababa nito ng two percent ang ating GDP. Kailangan ng mag create ng national task force para sa El Niño crisis na ito,” he further said.

To date, more than P4 billion have been reported damaged across the country since El Niño or the prolonged dry season damaged agriculture, explained Tolentino.

He pushed for the creation of a national government agency, Department of Water, whose scope will include local water utilities, irrigation and other entities and stakeholders. This will ensure a steady supply and sufficient safe water for drinking.

“Ito ay magseguro na may tubig sa bawat tahanan. Sa ngayon ay mayroong 9 million na pamilya na walang gripo sa kanilang bahay,” Tolentino said.

After El Niño will wreck havoc to the country’s agriculture, he predicted that by September 2019 another strong threat that is expected to hit the country is a super typhoon.

Tolentino said that while the Philippines is vulnerable to effects of climate change like El Niño, other parts of the country are often visited by typhoons.

“Mayaman ang Pilipinas, ang nagpapahirap sa atin ay ang bagyo,” he said.

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