Thursday Feb, 22 2024 11:54:03 AM

El Niño team reconstituted, response strategy expansion eyed

Climate Change/Environment • 12:45 PM Sat May 13, 2023
Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

MANILA – The Marcos administration has reconstituted the task force that will respond to the looming El Niño, Malacañang announced on Saturday.

The reconstituted task force will be led by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with other member agencies, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement, citing Department of National Defense chief Carlito Galvez Jr.'s three-page report submitted to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

"The team is tasked to implement measures to mitigate the impact of El Niño on the country’s economy, natural resources, environment, climate change, disaster response, and peace and order," Garafil said.

The task force and existing protocols for the El Niño task force were revived, in response to Marcos' directive to implement a “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-nation” approach to prepare for the possible impact of the extensive dry spell.

Based on the report submitted to Marcos, concerned government agencies have agreed to continue the existing structure of the El Niño Task Force as stated under Executive Order (EO) 16 signed in 2001.

Under EO 16, the task force is mandated to formulate a comprehensive disaster preparedness and rehabilitation plan for El Niño, monitor the implementation of the plan, and conduct a massive public information campaign.

The EO also directs all government agencies and local government units to extend full support for the El Niño task force.

Expanded roadmap

Garafil said the current Expanded Roadmap for Addressing the Impact of El Niño (E-RAIN) would also be updated and enhanced.

"An issuance of a resolution indicating the adoption of the existing E-RAIN framework is recommended, and if needed, a creation of a Technical Working Group is also suggested," she said.

To address the 2015-2016 El Niño episode, the administration of then president Benigno Aquino III crafted RAIN, which focused on ensuring food security, health, energy security, and safety in 67 impacted provinces, plus Metro Manila.

Galvez, in his report, emphasized that the reconstituted El Niño team has agreed to update and improve the E-RAIN, specifically the areas of concern, such as food security, water security, energy security, health, and public safety.

He said the monitoring of resources, recommendations of concerned agencies, and strategies employed by the previous administrations should be taken as inputs to enhance the E-RAIN framework.

Garafil said local officials would work closely with other government offices and gather the necessary data that would be consolidated by the National Economic and Development Authority.

Private sectors and other organizations must be involved with adopting the “whole-of-nation” approach, she added.

As part of government efforts to address the possible impact of El Niño, Garafil said Galvez would visit Cagayan Valley to personally assess the situation in the region, being one of the most likely affected by the dry spell.

Last month, Marcos ordered government agencies to prepare for the possible impact of the El Niño phenomenon, which is expected to hit the country in the last quarter of 2023 or the first quarter of 2024.

Marcos also instructed various agencies to ensure “protocol-based and scientific” long-term solutions to the impending problem and come up with a campaign to generate public awareness on water and energy conservation.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the probability of the occurrence of El Niño is 80 percent for June, July, and August, and 86 percent for November, December, and January although the country may experience heavy rainfall events before its impact. (PNA)

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