Cebu declares state of calamity
May B. Miasco (The Freeman) - March 26, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu province is now under a state of calamity due to the effects of a weak El Niño.

The official declaration came on Monday when the Provincial Board approved en masse the resolution stipulating the need for the province to be placed under state of calamity.

Board Member Thadeo Jovito Ouano, in his resolution, said there is a need for such declaration, citing visible damages and losses that the El Niño has caused on crops, livestock, fishery products, and water supply.

He said appropriate intervention and assistance have to be provided to the affected sectors to minimize the adverse effects of the phenomenon.

The declaration will enable the Capitol to set aside funds meant to provide immediate relief and assistance to the affected localities and communities.

Also under the resolution, the provincial body now authorizes Governor Hilario Davide III to augment or realign any item within the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management (PDRRM) plan to the identified priority needs.

Earlier, the PDRRM council’s technical working group conducted an initial survey and assessment in the various localities within the province to determine the extent of the damage and impact of the weak El Niño to the agricultural and fishery products, and the water utilities.

Damage and loss to crops, fish stocks, and water resources has been pegged at around P100 million, said PDRRMO head Baltazar Tribunalo Jr., basing on the office’s initial assessment. Of the estimated amount, P25 million accounted for the agricultural impact, particularly on corn products.

Tribunalo said as the weak El Niño may persist until May or June, the figures may even further swell. In fact, the actual damage or loss recorded during the 2015-2016 El Niño episode in Cebu reached P215 million.

Emily Lagrimas, PDRRMO Research and Planning Division head, said of the 51 towns and component cities in the province, at least 27 local government units have declared damages and losses.

These are the towns of Asturias, Alcantara, Aloguinsan, Alcoy, Argao, Balamban, Dumanjug, Sogod, Dalaguete, San Remegio, Sibonga, Tuburan, Tabuelan, Daanbantayan, Medellin, Bantayan, Carmen, Madridejos, Santa Fe, Consolacion, Compostela, Boljoon, and Minglanilla.

The rest are the cities of Carcar, Danao, Mandaue and Toledo.

Last week, the provincial government launched the damage assessment survey to the different towns and cities to assess the impacts of the El Niño have caused to the crop products, livestock and water supply.

Lagrimas said corn farmers are greatly affected. At least 891 farmers from the 11 LGUs declared P7.5 million in damages to their corn products.

Some of the produce and plants have withered. Fish catch have also reduced significantly and an outbreak of the dreaded crown of thorns (dap-ag) have been observed. And water levels in Cebu’s river systems have subsided while some deep wells have dried up.

Baltazar said Capitol’s short-term plans include “Program Patubig” and cash-for-work for the affected farmers and fishermen. He said it is also good to preposition relief goods.

He said the PDRRMO office has an available P59 million from its calamity fund; around P20 million to P25 million can be earmarked for the use or purchase of the needed materials or items.

He said the different LGUs may also make their separate declarations or adopt the resolution so that they can also augment their own funds to assist the affected sectors in their respective areas.

Some areas across the country have also declared state of calamity due to the nationwide concern on the weak El Niño. These are Zamboanga City; San Jose, Occidental Mindoro; and the 12 towns in North Cotabato (Carmen, Pikit, Aleosan, Midsayap, Matalam, M’lang, Alamada, Tulunan, Kabacan, Libungan and Pigcawayan).

El Niño is a natural phenomenon characterized by the unusual warming of the tropical Pacific; its effects to countries vary. The Philippines, in particular, experiences intense heat and scarce rains that may result in dry spell or drought. — KBQ (FREEMAN)

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