Broadcast journalist Jiggy Manicad, who is seeking a Senate seat in the May 13 midterm elections, is urging the government to take “radical steps” now that the El Niño phenomenon is wreaking havoc on the country’s water supply, particularly for the agricultural sector.
Manicad also urged city residents, particularly those living in Metro Manila, to conserve water amid the ongoing water supply problem in the region.
He warned that the farming sector would lose billions of pesos if immediate measures are not taken to mitigate the effects of the dry spell.
“We are an agricultural nation. We depend on agriculture for food but the looming water crisis is taking its toll on our farms and livestock,” Manicad says.
Citing records from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the multi-awarded journalist noted that only 57 percent of irrigable land or 1.73 million hectares are irrigated, with the rest of the country’s farmlands dependent on rain.
“Where our irrigation system gets water—the dams—are getting dry. This could mean a crisis if we don’t mitigate the effects of the El Niño,” Manicad says.
He called on Filipinos, particularly Metro Manilans, to conserve and store up water in light of the ongoing service interruptions, noting that everyone should use appliances and devices that use less water that in turn could help irrigate rice and other crops.
Metro Manila gets its water from the Angat, Ipo and La Mesa Dams. Part of the water from Angat Dam is diverted to irrigate farmlands in Bulacan and Pampanga.
“Unnecessary use of water, for sports and other recreational activities, should now be stopped,” he said.
In the long term, Manicad urged the government to come up with an agency that would manage the country’s water resources that is “managed and run by scientists.”
“This agency should come up with programs and projects that could harness all available water sources that could be used by farms, livestock and people,” he said.
Manicad, who is running for public office for the first time, has vowed to tackle agriculture and food security in legislation if elected in the Senate.