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4 provinces, 24 towns under ‘dry spell’ calamity

MANILA, Philippines — Four provinces and 24 towns are now under a state of calamity due to the prevailing dry spell, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported yesterday.

The NDRRMC said the prevailing dry spell, also known as El Niño, has already destroyed P5 billion worth of agricultural crops across the country’s 13 regions.

The dry spell has affected 164,672 farmers in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), Bicol, Western and Eastern Visayas, Western Mindanao, Northern Mindanao, Davao region, Central Mindanao and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).


“A total of 26 local government units (LGUs) have already declared a state of calamity due to dry spell,” NDRRMC executive director and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) administrator Ricardo Jalad said.

He said the LGUs that have respectively declared a state of calamity are the provinces of Occidental Mindoro, Camarines Sur, Cebu and Cotabato.


In Mountain Province, the town of Paracelis is currently under a state of calamity as well as the municipalities of San Jose and Rizal in Occidental Mindoro, Bingawan in Iloilo, Murcia in Negros Occidental, the city of Zamboanga and the towns of Alamada, M’Lang, Pikit, Aleson, Magpet, Tulunan, Arakan and Matalam in Cotabato province.

The towns of Paglat, Sultan Kudarat, Matanog, Datu Abdullah Sangki, Pagalungan, Upi in the province of Maguindanao and Wao in Lanao del Sur are also currently under state of calamity.

The dry spell at CAR has affected 25,481 hectares of farmlands and 21,047 farmers; Ilocos, 311 hectares and 472 farmers; Cagayan Valley, 69,914 hectares and 76,384 farmers; Central Luzon 1,143 farmers; Calabarzon, 675 hectares and 581 farmers; Mimaropa, 7,054 hectares, 4,778 farmers; Western Visayas, 3,065 hectares and 5,895 farmers; Eastern Visayas, 14,294 hectares and 12,068 farmers; Western Mindanao, 2,552 hectares and 2,265 farmers; Northern Mindanao, 1,555 hectares and 1,843 farmers, Central Mindanao, 2,647 hectares and 5,654 farmers and BARMM 7,995 hectares and 11,677 farmers.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) at CAR has distributed water pumps and high value crops in Abra, Benguet, Apayao, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province. 

The region is also requesting the conduct of cloud seeding in the provinces of Ifugao, Apayao and Kalinga to salvage whatever is left of the already damaged agricultural crops.

“CAR requested DA Central to release fund for the cloud seeding operation,” Jalad said.

In Eastern Visayas, the Calbayog City Water District (CCWD) is implementing 12 hours (six-hour interval) water interruption in almost 11 barangays in the city and five barangays of Sta. Margarita, Samar.

In Northern Mindanao, continuous monitoring is being done on the dry spell by local disaster units as well as DA’s formulation of the El Niño Action Plan to provide assistance to all affected farmers in the region.

“Coordinated with OCD Northern Mindanao for the conduct of cloud seeding operations as assistance to Davao del Sur province,” Jalad said.

No blackouts

The Department of Energy (DOE) assured the public there will be sufficient power in the country this summer, particularly during the May 13 elections, despite El Niño depleting water in dams with hydroelectric power plants.

Director Mario Marasigan of the DOE’s Electric Power Industry Management Bureau told the Senate committee on energy that the dry spell will have “minimal effect” on the country’s power supply.

“By the time of the elections, there will be no problem as far as supply,” Marasigan told the panel chaired by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian.

The committee was conducting an inquiry into various issues affecting the industry, including the planned initial public offering of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

He said the DOE remains on alert for possible unscheduled power plant breakdown while closely monitoring demand.

The NGCP has projected a peak demand of 11,400 megawatts after the elections.

“However, with such demand and the overall status of our power supply, we’ll still be able to provide ample supply and there should be no power outages,” Marasigan said.

He said 30 percent of the power is sourced from hydroelectric power plants but about 571 megawatts of fresh electricity will be coming in the next weeks until July from new power plants now undergoing testing.

Marasigan said instructions have been given to power producers not to undertake any maintenance or testing of their power plants a week before elections until a week after the polls to prevent any supply disruption. Marasigan added the Visayas region will also have steady electricity as its power sources are not dependent on hydroelectric power generators.

Mindanao, according to Marasigan, has excess power supply.

On the other hand,  Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo urged the President to declare a state of emergency over areas affected by El Niño.

“I appeal to President Duterte to declare a state of emergency over areas severely affected by El Niño so that disaster relief funds can be immediately released to bring direct aid to families hit by the drought,” Salo said.

Salo pointed out that the effect of El Niño-induced drought is “nationwide and the primarily agricultural areas of the country are more severely affected.” 

“Now would also be a good time to tap the $500-million (roughly P26 billion) disaster relief fund of the World Bank which the Department of Finance said is available when needed. We need that now,” Salo said. – With Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero


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