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Marcos Jr: Ensure public safety, help farmers amid El Niño

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos has ordered a “whole-of-government approach” to help farmers and to ensure public safety as the Philippines faces the impact of El Niño and La Niña.

“The Department of Agriculture (DA) was ordered to closely coordinate with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. to assess any regulation barriers imposed by the insurance commission to ensure that prompt financial aid reaches affected farmers,” a Presidential Communications Office (PCO) statement released yesterday read.

The environment department, the PCO said, was tasked “to engage in collaborative efforts to devise engineering solutions that alleviate the need for extreme water conservation measures.”

The El Niño task force previously said it is not discounting the possibility that Metro Manila may experience a water shortage because of the expected increase in consumption during summer. It has urged the public to save water and to limit the use of appliances.

The agency was also directed to work with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) to gather data on water oversupply and undersupply situations and to raise public awareness on the importance of building additional dams in mitigating the impact of El Niño.

The President has also ordered the Bureau of Fire Protection to coordinate with the health department to assess and implement requisite measures to ensure the safety of health facilities from fire hazards.

The OCD was also instructed to work closely with the tourism department to address the impact of the weather phenomenon on tourist spots, including issues related to water availability, energy resources, public health and safety.

The damage of the El Niño phenomenon to the agriculture sector in 10 regions has reached P2.63 billion affecting 54,2023 farmers as of April 3, according to data from the DA.

Among the regions affected are Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Soccsksargen, DA spokesman Arnel De Mesa said.

“The bulk of the damage was in rice with P1.7 billion, followed by corn at P591 million. In terms of areas, severely hit was Mimaropa