By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

(File photo)

MANILA — President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday directed concerned government agencies to give “production support” to provinces that are vulnerable to the impact of the El Niño phenomenon.

Marcos gave the order in a sectoral meeting at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Tuesday morning, in the wake of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s (PAGASA) report that the country is already experiencing moderate El Niño which is expected to strengthen until the first quarter of 2024.

Citing PAGASA, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon noted that some provinces in the eastern part of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao are “less likely” to be hit by El Niño in December.

“So, this (El Niño) is expected to bring below normal rainfall across the country and may adversely impact agricultural production and also energy generation,” Edillon said in a Palace press briefing.

“In December, there will be a number of provinces that will be less likely to be hit by El Niño. And so, in the briefing this morning – that was actually the instruction of the President – to make sure that we target the production support to these provinces,” she added.

Quizzed as to what kind of “production support” the government would provide, Edillon said it is more of the distribution of high-yielding varieties of seeds and fertilizers, as well as ensuring proper irrigation.

Edillon said there is no exact allocation yet for the provision of support to the affected provinces, but noted that there was a commitment from newly installed Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. to “work on right away.”

The government is prepared to ensure that the “worst scenario will not happen,” Edillon added.

Edillon said the government might also provide cash assistance to help the vulnerable sectors.

In July, the Department of Agriculture – Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center (DA-DRRMC) said some 66 areas nationwide may experience dry conditions, dry spell and drought until the end of the year.

The DA-DRRMC said dry conditions may prevail in three areas in Luzon, five in the Visayas and 20 in Mindanao, while a dry spell is looming in 32 areas in Luzon and four in the Visayas.

The provinces of Camarines Norte and Southern Leyte may also experience drought.

Dry spell is defined as three consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition while dry condition is defined as two consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition, both 21 to 60 percent reduction from average rainfall.

Drought is three consecutive months of way below normal rainfall condition (60 percent reduction from average rainfall). (PNA)