President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has called for the creation of a team that would focus on mitigating the effects of the El Niño phenomenon, according to an official from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).
"Pinasiguro sa amin 'yung whole of government o whole of nation approach. So through the mechanisms of the NDRRMC. He specifically instructed to form an El Niño team immediately," Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno said during a press briefing on Tuesday.
"Pangalawa po sa instruction niya, siguraduhing mayroon tayong long-term processes na magiging protocol-based at scientific while we have to... of course mas maganda na maghanda tayo," he added.
(The second instruction was to ensure long-term processes that will be protocol-based and scientific... it's better that we are prepared.)
Nepomuceno also said the President wants the government, specifically the Department of Health, to focus on the illnesses which are usually experienced during this phenomenon.
The El Niño phenomenon is characterized by the abnormal warming of sea surface temperature in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean and below normal rainfall.
Last month, PAGASA said the phenomenon is expected to start in June of this year. The weather bureau said the climate pattern in the country would remain neutral from March to June but expects El Niño to begin thereafter.
According to PAGASA deputy administrator Esperanza Cayanan, the public should conserve water in preparation for El Niño.
Cayanan noted that the impact could be mostly felt by the public during the last quarter of 2023.
"Kung kahit may ulan, nagtitipid tayo ng gamit ng ating tubig ay mapepreserve pa natin. Mapapahaba natin itong maiimbak na tubig na darating na tag-ulan... Kasi po sa nakikita natin ang pinakaepekto po nito or impacts would be towards the last quarter, 'yung mas magiging serious na impact nito ay 'yun pong first quarter hanggang papasok na tag-init next year," she said.
(If we continue to save water even there's rain, we could still preserve. We could still store the water until the next wet season. We see that the serious effect could be felt in the last quarter of this year or during the first quarter up to summer of next year.)
"Magconserve tayo lahat siguro tayo pati 'ung mga ordinaryong Pilipino, ayusin natin 'yung paggamit ng tubig para aman 'yung consumption natin ay hindi lumaki and later on kukulangin tayo..." Cayanan added.
(Let us conserve, even ordinary Filipinos, let us use water wisely.)
Cayanan explained that before the Philippines could experience the phenomenon, the country would encounter heavy rainfalls.
If the El Niño phenomenon would be categorized as "strong," she said this could be compared to the extreme rainfall that took place during Tropical Storm Ondoy.
"Posible po tayong magkaroon ng heavy rainfall events before natin maramdaman iyong impacts ng El Niño na kakulangan sa ulan kasi nga papasok na po tayo ng rainy season or iyong Habagat season this coming June, July, August up to September," Cayanan said.
(We can experience heavy rainfall events before we experience the impacts of El Niño because we are already entering the rainy season this coming June, July, August up to September.)
"And from previous experience po natin, puwede po tayong maka-experience ng extreme rainfall event kagaya po ng isang example noong Ondoy noong 2009 wherein nagkaroon po kasi tayo ng El Niño 2009, 2010. Pero bago natin naramdaman iyong kakulangan sa tubig, naka-experience po tayo ng extreme events," she added.
(From our previous experience, we can encounter extreme rainfall like what happened during Ondoy in 2009. Before we experience a shortage of water, we will encounter extreme events.) — RSJ, GMA Integrated News