As the country braces for the return of El Nino, President Marcos Jr. should lead in the upgrading of the RAIN or “Roadmap to Address the Impact of El Nino” so that the weather phenomenon will not seriously harm the country’s food, electricity and water supply.
The call was made by House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto who recalled that RAIN was a comprehensive strategy paper drafted by NEDA which guided the whole-of-nation’s response during the 2015-2016 El Nino episode.
“Meron ng blueprint sa ganitong emergency. Kailangan lang ay to dust it off and brush it up, so it will be attuned to the unique characteristics of the 2023 version of El Nino,” Recto said.
“One big motivating factor” for President Marcos Jr. to commission an El Nino response strategy “is that (El Nino) will hit a sector which is under his jurisdiction – agriculture.”
“Iyong agriculture natin meron ng preexisting comorbidities. On top of this is the recent combined fuel-fertilizer crisis. Foul weather should not be the third,” Recto said.
“Scarcity in water leads to scarcity in food. This is not an alarmist statement. It is a fact, because without water, you cannot grow food,” Recto said.
Because water lack shrink planting areas, delay planting seasons and cut crop yields, a World Bank-cited study found that a “one degree increase in sea surface temperatures” led to a “3.7 percent decline in irrigated dry season production and a 13.7 percent decline in rainfed dry season production in Luzon,” Recto said.
El Nino also negatively impacts livestock and poultry as high temperatures can cause heat stress on animals, Recto warned.
“Umiinom ang hayop. At kailangan ang tubig upang panatilihing malinis at mapigilan ang sakit sa mga farms. May ASF na nga sa baboy, tapos dadagdag pa ang kakulangan sa tubig,” Recto said.
Recto said “assuring statements” coming from government agencies should not be limited to “dipstick readings on big water dams near Manila, because the country is big and sources are diverse.”
According to PAGASA, there have been seven severe El Nino events since 1980, with the last one lasting from 2015 to 2016, inflicting $327 million in agricultural losses.
To address the 2015-2016 El Nino episode, the Aquino administration crafted RAIN, which focused on ensuring food security, health, energy security, safety on 67 impacted provinces and Metro Manila.