Iloilo, Mindoro most affected by El Niño

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Iloilo, Mindoro most affected by El Niño
Officials inspect a dried up field in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro on February 27, 2024, following the local government's declaration of a state of calamity due to the severe damage of El Niño on the town's farmlands.
Edd Gumban / The Philippine STAR

MANILA, Philippines — Iloilo and Oriental Mindoro have been hardest hit by drought due to El Niño, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

At the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing yesterday, DA Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Arnel de Mesa said damage to agriculture due to El Niño in Iloilo has reached P127 million while losses incurred in Oriental Mindoro were placed at P56 million.

De Mesa said the DA, through its Agricultural Credit Policy Council, allocated P500 million for affected farmers and fisherfolk. They can avail themselves of a loan of P25,000 under the Survival and Recovery Loan program.

He said the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. allotted P1.8 billion in insurance claims for affected farmers.

“Farmers in affected areas can claim at least P20,000,” De Mesa said.

He said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources allocated P500 million in fuel subsidy for fishermen.

“Our regional field offices have at least P500 million to fund the distribution of shallow tube wells and solar-powered irrigation systems in areas with sustainable water sources,” De Mesa said.

He said cloud seeding, which would be  the ”last option,” would continue after the successful operations in Cagayan Valley.

”We need to coordinate this with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and Department of National Defense. Aside from being expensive, we need to ensure that there are seedable clouds,” De Mesa said.

DA Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. had earlier urged affected local government units to declare a state of calamity for them to be able to access the quick response fund.

Water cuts can be prevented – MWSS

Meanwhile, rotating water interruptions in Metro Manila and nearby areas can still be prevented, according to the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage and System.

MWSS division manager Patrick Dizon said a stable water supply can be ensured if the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) will not proceed with its plan to reduce the allocation for Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water to 48 cubic meters per second and 46 cms in April and May, respectively.

“We are constantly coordinating with the NWRB on this. The statement mentioned was based on our meetings last week, wherein conservative projection was discussed to prepare and plan for the next three months during the onset of El Niño,” Dizon said.

As of 6 a.m. yesterday, the water level in Angat Dam was .18 meters lower compared to its previous level of 206.11 meters. The dam’s normal high water level is 212 meters.

Angat Dam supplies more than 90 percent of Metro Manila’s potable water needs. It also provides for the irrigation of 25,000 hectares of rice fields in Bulacan and parts of Pampanga.

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