Palace orders agencies to prepare plans to mitigate El Niño impact

Palace orders agencies to prepare plans to mitigate El Niño impact

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has ordered the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of National Defense, and other agencies to prepare programs that will mitigate the impact of El Niño, which will bring about a dry spell that is expected to last until the second quarter of 2024.

Science and Technology Secretary Renato U. Solidum, Jr. said at a Palace briefing on Tuesday that the National Action Plan for El Niño “will include a comprehensive strategy covering water security, food security and energy security.”

Mr. Solidum said its part of the plan, which will be executed with the Office of Civil Defense and the government weather service, known as PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), seeks to minimize power interruptions and the outbreak of illnesses resulting from the weather phenomenon.

He said moderate to severe drought conditions are likely to occur between February and May.

In a Dec. 6 advisory, PAGASA said a strong El Niño has intensified in the Tropical Pacific, with sea temperature anomalies exceeding 1.5 degrees centigrade from normal levels.

Mr. Solidum said that 77% of the provinces in the country might experience drought, while 65% of the provinces may see a dry spell.

PAGASA defines a drought as three consecutive months of below-normal rainfall or two straight months of significantly below-normal rainfall. A dry spell means two straight months of below-normal rainfall.

At a meeting with the President on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. presented an online database on the impact of El Niño, state-run Radio Television Malacañang said in a Facebook post.

“We need to further intensify our efforts to make sure that we are ready for this, especially in the various fields that were already mentioned like health, water, agriculture, sanitation, and of course, peace and order; and we also need to involve everyone in this effort,” Mr. Solidum said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez