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‘No need for El Niño state of calamity’

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President Marcos said Monday there was no need to declare a nationwide state of calamity amid the negative effects of the El Niño phenomenon.

While he underscored the widespread effects of the dry spell, Mr. Marcos said he would let local government units decide on declaring a state of calamity in their region.

“It can’t be a shotgun, one-size-fits-all approach. So we look at each area and see what it is that they need. So that’s the way we are handling the local states of calamity that the local governments have declared,” the President told the media in Bacolod City.

“Actually, the truth is, everyone will be affected, however bad the effect of El Niño will be,” he added.

Despite the challenges posed by the dry weather event, President Marcos highlighted the government’s proactive measures to mitigate its impacts, particularly in agricultural areas.

He underscored efforts to improve irrigation systems, implement new planting techniques, and construct dams to bolster agricultural production.

“But the other areas, although it is felt, it’s not critical. As a matter of fact, we have put up dams. We are fixing our irrigation (systems), and we are trying new techniques of planting. We are harvesting more palay now than we did last year despite the El Niño,” he said.

Meanwhile, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte proposed the mandatory installation of water retention facilities by commercial and real estate developers as some 80 provinces are feared to be hit by drought caused by the El Niño.

In a statement, the lawmaker aired his proposal in support of President Marcos’ efforts to avoid water scarcity.

Earlier, Villafuerte sought congressional approval of a measure authorizing local governments to require property developers to build rainwater catchment facilities in their projects amid the stepped-up government efforts to put up water retention facilities.

At least 18 LGUs have declared a state of calamity due to the impact of the El Niño phenomenon, the latest report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council showed.

They include 11 towns in the province of Occidental Mindoro; Bulalacao and Mandalay in Oriental Mindoro; San Vicente, Palawan; San Andres, Romblon; Mayoyao, Ifugao; Sinaloa, Antique; and Zamboanga City.

Data from the Department of Agriculture earlier put the damage and losses of the agriculture sector at over P2.76 billion, and that El Niño’s latest onslaught has covered 10 of 16 regions, affecting some 54,000 farmers.

“With El Niño seemingly getting nastier by the year, the Congress can help Malacañang improve national water security and avoid a possible scenario of water scarcity in the years ahead by writing legislation that would empower local governments to compel commercial and residential estate developers to put up facilities for retaining rainwater in their properties,” Villafuerte said.

“This is a sensible way for us to address the paradox of water scarcity and flash floods plaguing our country, especially in Metro Manila and cities outside the national capital, which is one awful consequence of climate change,” added the author of House Bill 5640.

The bill mandates local governments to make the installation of rainwater retention facilities in all new commercial, institutional, and residential infrastructure projects in Metro Manila and other major cities a prerequisite for the local governments’ issuance of construction permits to commercial and residential property developers.

To be known as the “Rainwater Harvesting Facility Act,” HB 5640 has been referred by the House leadership to its Committee on Public Works for study.

In a recent Palace briefing, Malacañang’s Task Force El Niño said that in the next three months, as many as 80 provinces are likely to be affected by varying degrees of dry conditions, dry spell or drought.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline Marcos rules out placing country under state of calamity over El Niño impact


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