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DENR bracing for La Niña

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes has put in place measures to mitigate the effects of the La Niña weather phenomenon, which is expected to hit the country in the next few months.

In a memorandum submitted to President Arroyo, Reyes said he has formulated and is implementing "mitigation measures" in areas that will be affected by La Niña.

La Niña, which involves heavy rains even during the summer months, is expected to last until June. It is the opposite of the El Niño phenomenon, which brings unusually dry weather even during the rainy season.

La Niña has been blamed for the landslide in southern Leyte that buried an entire village.

Reyes, who chairs the National Committee on Disaster Mitigation, said the plan includes preventing flash floods, especially along river banks; intensifying anti-illegal logging operations; and quick-response rescue and relief operations to disaster-hit areas.

Experts have listed 21 provinces that are most likely to be affected by La Niña. Ten provinces are in the "first priority" category — Samar, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte.

Provinces in the "second priority" category are Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Albay, Masbate, Catanduanes and Sorsogon, while "third priority" provinces are Davao Oriental, Isabela, Cagayan, Aurora and Quezon.

Reyes also vowed to pursue a "holistic approach" in his sworn duty to protect the environment.

During the Second Working Meeting of the Task Force and Advisory Group of the East Asia and Pacific-Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (EAP-FLEG) held in Manila recently, Reyes pledged to work closely with Asian governments in protecting and enhancing the environment, particularly in the preservation of forests.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had hosted the meeting, which was attended by government and non-government organizations involved in forest protection from China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, New Guinea and the Philippines.

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