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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Task Force prepares for La Niña; House eyes flood control measures

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Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. said on Monday that all government agencies involved in Task Force El Niño (TFEN) have begun preparations for the upcoming La Niña season on the instructions of President Marcos.

Teodoro said this development comes after the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) released its forecast that La Niña, or the cooling of surface-ocean waters, will develop during the months of June, July, and August.

Speaker Martin Romualdez, for his part, will convene a high-level meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss flood preparation and mitigation in Metro Manila and other flood-prone areas in the country.

The head of the 308-strong House of Representatives has asked the secretaries of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), as well as the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman to attend the conference.

“We are seriously preparing for the arrival of La Niña even before it affects our country. PAGASA has raised the alarm so our unity and immediate action is important to protect our communities from possible flooding,” he said.

“Through the cooperation of the DPWH, DENR, DILG, and MMDA, and of course our local government officials, we are strengthening our disaster preparedness and prevention measures to ensure the safety of every Filipino,” he added.

Romualdez said food security, sufficient water supply, energy availability, public health, public safety, mobility, and interconnectivity would be given priority in the preparations.

He said, “The relationship between the national government and local government units needs to be tight in order to implement the actions in the massive preparation that we will do.”

“The order given to us by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will do everything necessary to ensure that the communities and every Filipino family are safe from harm,” he added.

The Defense chief, who chairs the presidential task force, also noted PAGASA’s report that the El Niño weather phenomenon was weakening, but hotter and drier conditions will persist.

“As El Niño diminishes in its intensity, we must now start preparing for the arrival of La Niña, which is expected to bring above normal rainfall in the country,” Teodoro said. “Let’s work to mitigate and minimize the damage it can cause to lives and properties,” he added.

PAGASA also announced that the transition to southwest monsoon may happen during May. Southwest monsoon, popularly known as Habagat, causes rains over the western portion of the Philippines from May to September.

The state weather bureau will continue to closely monitor the waning El Niño and the developing La Niña and its effect on the local climate.

On this note, Task Force El Niño spokesman Communications Assistant Secretary Joey Villarama said that despite the weakening of El Niño, the last few weeks of May are still very critical in terms of water, energy and food conservation.

“Even if we are at the tail end of El Niño, before the climate pattern shifts to neutral conditions and eventually La Niña, the lingering effects of El Niño in the remaining days of this month will still have an impact on our limited resources,” he said.

“We continue to enjoin everyone to be wise in using water, electricity and even food until El Niño has been officially terminated, and in preparation for La Niña,” Villarama advised.

President Marcos created the TFEN via an executive order in January to develop a comprehensive disaster preparedness and rehabilitation plan for El Niño and La Niña, as well as provide “systematic, holistic, and results-driven interventions” to help the public cope with their impact.

Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum co-chairs the task force with Secretaries Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga (Environment and Natural Resources), Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. (Agriculture), Teodoro Herbosa (Health), and Arsenio Balisacan (National Economic and Development Authority) as members.

Romualdez also urged communities to join the national government and local government units in preparing for possible flooding.

The House leader said Tuesday’s meeting aims to foster a unified strategy that not only addresses the immediate impacts of potential flooding but also fortifies long-term resilience in communities at risk.

“The dialogue will focus on integrating infrastructure development, environmental management, and community-based approaches to form a comprehensive flood mitigation framework. The insights and agreements from this meeting will be pivotal in shaping the national response to flood risks,” he added.

He assured the public that they would be informed of the results of the conference to better prepare them for the adverse effects of La Niña.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline Government preparations underway for La Niña season, says Teodoro

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