A Bicolano lawmaker on Saturday urged the government to prepare for El Niño as he reiterated his call for the creation of a Department of Water Resources.
“Kailangang paghandaang mabuti ng pamahalaan ang El Niño, lalo pa at inaasahan na makakaapekto ito sa mga pananim ngayong taon, partikular sa bigas,” Agri Rep. Wilbet Lee, who hails from Sorsogon, said.
“Mismong si Pangulong Bongbong Marcos ay binanggit ito sa kanyang SONA noong nakaraang taon, at sa tingin ko dapat itulak ito nang husto sa pagbubukas ng Kongreso sa Lunes.”
In his State of the Nation Address last year, Marcos proposed the creation of the Department of Water Resources and the adoption of the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) as the strategic framework for national water management, policymaking and planning.
In February, Marcos approved the creation of a Water Resource Management Office (WRMO) to manage the country’s water resources.
Lee on August 1, 2022 filed House Bill No. 2880, which creates the said agency. The new department will be tasked to develop and implement programs and policies to promote universal access to safe, adequate, affordable, and sustainable water supply, irrigation, sewage and sanitation services.
Lee explained that the measure also mandates the Department of Water Resources “to protect all water resources with greater emphasis on sources of drinkable water and work closely with local government units for the protection of waters within their jurisdictions, especially on pollution prevention and river restoration.”
The measure also seeks to promote the use of rainwater harvesting facilities throughout the country to augment the country’s water supply needs and transfers the supervision of the construction and operations of all wells and other water-harvesting facilities from the Department of Public Works and Highways to the new agency.
“Mahalaga ang tubig sa kalusugan nating lahat, sa ating food supply, at sa ating agricultural and industrial development. Kaya naman kapag maayos ang pangangasiwa sa ating tubig ay siguradong Winner Tayo Lahat,” said the solon.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said El Niño would likely result in below-normal rainfall conditions causing dry spells and drought in some parts of the country.
PAGASA classifies two consecutive months of more than 60 percent rainfall decline as dry spells, while it defines droughts as five consecutive months of below-normal rainfall.
The Department of Agriculture had earlier identified the following provinces as those projected to experience dry spells: Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Metro Manila, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan, Camarines Sur, and Catanduanes in Luzon; and Antique, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, and Southern Leyte in the Visayas.
Drought, on the other hand, is expected in the provinces of Camarines Norte and Northern Leyte.