The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has called for early actions to mitigate the effects of El Niño, which has already caused drought in several provinces across the country.

Board Member Winston Arzaga raised the alarm for the provincial government to address what he described as “an impending crisis brought about by the drought that has already ravaged several farmlands in Luzon.”

He mentioned that the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has classified all provinces into three categories based on the anticipated effects of El Niño in the country: provinces facing dry spells, provinces experiencing prolonged dry seasons, and those expected to be severely affected by drought.

“Unfortunately for us, among the provinces in Mimaropa, Palawan and Occidental Mindoro are under the list of provinces which may suffer damages because of prolonged drought,” Arzaga said in his privilege speech during their regular session on Tuesday, March 12.

“In fact, the province of Occidental Mindoro, especially four of its municipalities have already declared a state of calamity so that they can access their QRT (quick response team) fund for the purpose of maintaining at least semblance of action on their part,” he stated.

Arzaga said with the situation in mind, he believes it is also time for the provincial government to conside measures to be able to mitigate the impact of drought especially on farmers and fishermen.

“So I would like to propose that we request for the presence of our department heads especially the PDRRMO, planning, and agriculture to brief us on whatever measures they are preparing, mitigating actions they are doing to at least minimize the impact of the drought in our province,” Arzaga said.

Board Member Al Nashier Ibba on the other hand said said he has filed two resolutions, recommending to Gov. Victorino Dennis Socrates the possibility of declaring a state of calamity, and to allocate funds for financial assistance to farmers affected by the El Niño phenomenon, noting that if the El Niño lasts until the month of May, more farmers will suffer.

Ibba also said that based on a report of the Department of Agriculture, El Niño has already  brought damages in the amount of P357.4 million in 2,177 hectares of rice fields including Mimaropa, affecting 7,668 farmers .

“In Palawan, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) reported 1,200 farmers are affected by El Niño from Aborlan, Narra, Sofronio Española, Quezon, San Vicente, Taytay and Bataraza,” he said.

Board Member Ariston Arzaga on the other hand said since last year we have been asking OPA to prepare contingency plans and measures regarding the forecasted El Niño.

“We are on standby but before anything else, alam naman natin na yung Palawan, nandito tayo sa tinatawag na wet season and dry season where ang apektado ay yung farmers who plant high value crops are already affected,” he said.