By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

EL NIÑO PREPARATIONS. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (right side, wearing mask) convenes a sectoral meeting with key officials to discuss updates on the administration’s El Niño National Action Plan at the State Dining Room of Malacañan in Manila on Tuesday (Dec. 12, 2023). The President directed the task force to ensure a steady supply of water and energy resources throughout El Niño next year. (Photo courtesy of Bongbong Marcos Facebook)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday directed the El Niño Task Force to make sure that there will be steady water and power supply throughout the weather phenomenon.

Marcos gave the directive in a meeting with key officials from concerned agencies at the State Dining Room of the Malacañan Palace in Manila.

“Mitigating the effects of El Niño remains a top priority,” he said in a Facebook post.

“We’ve directed our Task Force to consolidate government interventions and ensure a steady supply of water and energy resources throughout El Niño next year,” Marcos added.

In a separate statement, Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said Marcos ordered the task force to consolidate all measures to mitigate the impacts of El Niño, which is expected to persist until the end of the second quarter of 2024.

Garafil said Marcos wants a massive information campaign that would remind the public to conserve resources.

Marcos also ordered to intensify efforts and ensure timely release of assistance to affected areas, Garafil added.

“The President stressed the need to prioritize efforts based on short-term and long-term interventions of the government,” she said. “Marcos also told officials to encourage the public to take part in the government efforts.”

During the meeting, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. presented the National Action Plan for El Niño, which contains a comprehensive strategy covering water security, food security, energy security, health security and public safety.

Teodoro also introduced the National El Niño Online Platform (NOP), based on a statement posted on the official Facebook page of state-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM).

According to RTVM’s Facebook post, the NOP is a database designed to facilitate the development of well-informed, data-driven plans and programs to combat the effects of El Niño.

Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum on Tuesday said around 65 provinces, or 77 percent of the total provinces of the country, are forecast to experience drought by the end of May 2024 while at least six provinces may experience a dry spell. (PNA)