Ana Liza Solis, chief of the PAGASA climate monitoring and prediction section, said the dry spell would affect Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Ilocos Sur as well as La Union this month.
Drought due to El Niño to hit more provinces
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - March 6, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — More provinces are expected to experience drought in the next two months due to El Niño, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned the public yesterday.

Ana Liza Solis, chief of the PAGASA climate monitoring and prediction section, said the dry spell would affect Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, Ilocos Sur as well as La Union this month.

Ilocos Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Maguindanao and Cebu have been experiencing drought since February, according to Solis.

She said drought-hit areas may reach 22 by April.

Zamboanga City was declared under a state of calamity due to El Niño.

The city council approved yesterday the recommendation of the local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO) after more than 55 hectares of land with an estimated value of P1.265 million were affected by the dry spell.

The city agriculture office earlier reported that around P7 million worth of rice, corn and vegetables were damaged.

DRRMO chief Elmeir Apolinario said about P13 million was allocated to help cushion the impact of the dry spell.

Water summit set

A water summit to address drought in Ilocos is slated next week as Gov. Imee Marcos called for immediate actions to mitigate the impact of El Niño.

Marcos said the summit aims to put in place measures and provide the necessary assistance to areas affected by the dry spell.

“The dry spell would trigger widespread drought. We must be proactive in helping our farmers who will bear the brunt of El Niño,” she said.

She reiterated her call for the grant of LIFE or living income for farmers in emergency situations in affected areas. 

“Local government units in affected areas need the national government’s assistance to help farmers survive,” she said.

Marcos said the government should release emergency funds in times of natural calamities such as El Niño.

Farmers in Laoag City started harvesting their crops earlier than scheduled.

Provincial Sustainable Development Office head Edwin Cariño said farmers and representatives from the Department of Agriculture, National Irrigation Authority and Philippine Rice Research Institute are expected to attend the summit.

PAGASA defines drought as three consecutive months of “way below normal” rainfall or less than 60 percent reduction from average rainfall.

The country is experiencing less rainfall and warmer temperatures due to a “weak” El Niño, which is expected to last until end of May or June.

The state weather bureau has yet to officially announce the start of the dry season. The weather agency declares the dry season once the easterlies – or warm air from the Pacific – become the dominant wind system in the country.

PAGASA weather forecasters earlier said a longer dry season is expected this year due to El Niño.

Several areas have been experiencing warm temperatures in the past days.

On Monday, PAGASA recorded the highest temperature so far this year in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan at 34 degrees Celsius.

The hottest temperature in Metro Manila reached 33.6 degrees Celsius.

Earlier, Solis said the temperature might reach 38.2 degrees Celsius in Metro Manila and 40.7 degrees Celsius in Tuguegarao City in May.

Below normal rainfall is likely to continue over most parts of Luzon until June, she said. – With Roel Pareño, Jose Rodel Clapano

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