Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Govt braces for La Niña, readies assistance for farmers, fishermen

Government assistance to farmers and fishermen, who are expected to bear the brunt of the “creeping disaster" that is the La Niña weather phenomenon, will be fully realized this month as officials brace for more heavy rains even during the summer season.

“We are working on the final plans on how to assist marginalized fishermen and farmers to use the rice subsidy that was given to the [Department of Social Welfare and Development] and how to apportion that over the year," said Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman at a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday.

Soliman said high waves brought by strong winds are affecting the capacity of small fishermen to fish.

“They are the most affected right now. We hope to be ready to implement the support for small fishers and marginalized farmers by the middle of the month," she said.

At present, the government is supporting the affected rural folks with relief and food packs from its P662 million calamity fund.

Wet summer, more typhoons

Since December, various parts of the country have been experiencing continuous and intense rains that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said was due to La Niña, a weather phenomenon usually characterized by heavy rains.

“What we are having right now is a creeping disaster," DOST Undersecretary Graciano Yumul told reporters at the same briefing, citing the big amount of rainfall dumped in several provinces.

“We are seeing a thousand millimeters of rainfall for several areas and ... we believe this is really due to La Niña. We expect a wet summer and in the process, later part of this year, we expect more typhoons as compared to the 2010 and of course they are going to be stronger," he added. 

No more Ondoy tragedy

Soliman assured the public that a tragedy similar to what typhoon Ondoy caused in 2009 will not happen again as concerned agencies are now getting real time weather updates from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

“They have a system where all of us who are part of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) get a regular text almost every hour if there is a need. Once we get that, we give it to the concerned region," she said.

She said the monitoring is not only focused on the rain but water level in rivers as well.

“They are also putting in gadgets that will tell us the possibility of landslides. And the monitoring of waters in the dam and monitoring of waters in the river including Marikina River is ongoing. So the warning is way ahead," Soliman said. 

Presidential communications development and strategic planning Secretary Ricky Carandang said a direr situation was averted because of cooperation and coordination with the local governments.

“We’ve had very good coordination and cooperation, there has been inter-agency coordination. There has been a lot of effort and attention paid to preparing for these weather disturbances," he said. - KBK, GMANews.TV

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