Pagasa suspends Mindanao cloud-seeding operations

Ghio Ong, Helen Flores - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Cloud-seeding operations in drought-hit areas in Mindanao have been suspended as the military continued its clearing operations in Lanao del Sur.

“Our team must go back for their safety,” Flaviana Hilario, deputy administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), told reporters yesterday.

The clearing operations started on Sunday after almost a week of clashes with militants affiliated with the regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah in several barangays in Butig town.

Hilario said most of the areas affected by the dry spell are in Mindanao. A state of calamity was earlier declared in North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Zamboanga City and Basilan to hasten the release of funds to mitigate the effects of the drought. 

The government has been conducting cloud-seeding operations in Central Mindanao since last month.

PAGASA earlier said Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Basilan, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao would be affected by the drought. 

The state weather bureau said Rizal, Palawan and Catanduanes in Luzon and Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and Samar in the Visayas would also be affected by the dry spell.

The Department of Agriculture said damage to crops and other agricultural products due to El Niño was estimated at P4.002 billion. 

Cornfields suffered the most extensive damage at 195,694 metric tons valued at P2.36 billion while damage to rice fields was placed at P1.62 billion.

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