EL NIÑO RESPONSE. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. chats with National Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. during a lull at the Philippine Army Officer Candidate Course graduation ceremony at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on July 7, 2023. Teodoro assured the President on Sunday (Feb. 18, 2024) that Task Force El Niño and local disaster risk reduction and management councils are actively working to mitigate the impact of the weather phenomenon. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

MANILA – National Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. is assuring President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. that Task Force El Niño and local disaster risk reduction and management councils (DRRMCs) are actively working to mitigate the impact of the weather phenomenon.

During the second task force meeting chaired by Teodoro at Camp Aguinaldo, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Marlo Iringan said regional directors as well as local DRRMCs are being alerted for El Niño response.

“Our local chief executives and DRRMCs are in the best position to determine the needs of their communities during crisis and emergencies,” Teodoro said on Sunday.

“Effectively addressing the effects of El Niño across the country surely requires all hands on deck,” he added.

This was after the DILG agreed with Teodoro’s position to align local government units (LGUs) as well as provincial and city-level DRRMCs with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s whole-of-government approach to mitigate and manage the impact of El Niño.

“As in any disaster or calamity, the provincial, city, municipal and barangay-level DRRMCs should take the lead and get involved,” Teodoro told Iringan during the task force meeting on Feb. 12.

Teodoro said the task force’s efforts will streamline the national government’s response to the weather phenomenon, saying that the President wants to focus on “systematic, holistic, and results-driven interventions.”

“We should all cooperate and coordinate as we deal with the effects of and concerns on El Niño. We do not need a new structure. What we need is to breathe fresh energy and a new lease on life on the existing networks and links that we have all access to,” the Defense chief and task force chairperson said.

“At the regional- and local government-levels, we can reignite old connections of collaboration. We have done this in handling past disasters and calamities. The provincial DRRMCs and city DRRMCs should restart reconnecting,” he added.

On Jan. 19, President Marcos signed Executive Order No. 53 to streamline, reactivate, and reconstitute the old El Niño task forces under EO No. 16 (s. 2001) and Memorandum Order No. 38 (s. 2019).

Teodoro was designated as chairperson of the task force, while Secretary of Science and Technology Renato Solidum was designated as co-chairperson.

Under EO No. 53, the President instructed the task force to develop a comprehensive disaster preparedness and rehabilitation plan for El Niño and La Niña to provide “systematic, holistic, and results-driven interventions” to help the public cope and minimize their devastating effects. (PR/PNA)