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Senate inquiry on El Niño devastation sought

An investigation on the ongoing El Niño phenomenon and its effects has been sought at the Senate.

An investigation on the ongoing El Niño phenomenon and its effects has been sought at the Senate.

Senator Imee Marcos, sister of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., made the call under Senate Resolution 986 amid some provinces experiencing drought and dry spells, according to state weather bureau records.

“Despite the various efforts and initiatives being conducted by the government and the increase in water rates, the entire country is still experiencing strained water resources and water crisis in various regions and provinces,” Senator Marcos said.

Based on the data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination  of Humanitarian Affairs, 29,400 Filipino farmers are affected amid the drought, with Region 6 having the highest number of affected farmers at 18,000.

Likewise, the drought has also affected a total of 32,200 hectares of affected crop area, resulting in 44,800 metric tons of production loss in volume.

“Now, therefore, be it resolved as it is hereby resolved, directing the appropriate Senate committee to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the ongoing El Niño phenomenon and the recurring water crisis in the country,” she added.

On April 2, Samar province recorded the highest heat index in the Philippines at 45 degrees Celsius.

As early as December 2023, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) stated that around 65 provinces, or 77% of the total provinces of the country, were to experience drought by the end of May 2024.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Balisacan has already called for a more comprehensive, coordinated, and science-based approach involving the national and local governments in the water, agriculture, energy, health and public safety sectors that have been planned to mobilize the impacts of El Niño.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) also earlier approved the rate hike requests of Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services, specifically an increase of P6.41 per cubic meter for Manila Water Company, and a hike of P7.87 per cubic meter for Maynilad Water Services, that took effect since January 1. —Llanesca T. Panti/ VAL, GMA Integrated News