Philippine Daily Inquirer

Puerto, Davao Oriental in state of calamity

- Nico Alconaba, Inquirer Mindanao, and Redempto D. Anda and Michael B. Jaucian, Inquirer Southern Luzon

TWO MORE areas have been declared under state of calamity as a result of the prolonged drought.

The provincial government of Davao Oriental and the city government of Puerto Princesa made the move as the drought continued to destroy crops and push farmers to desperate measures.

Davao Oriental Gov. Corazon Malanyaon, citing a report by the Provincial Agricultur­e Office, said the drought had damaged crops and livestock in the province’s 10 towns and the city of Mati.

Malanyaon said a total of 3,870 farming families were severely affected by the drought that had already damaged more than 3,000 hectares of farms in Davao Oriental.

The provincial government initially placed the amount of damage at P42.1 million.

At least four local government units have earlier declared states of calamity. These are the city of Mati and the towns of Tarragona, San Isidro and Lupon.

With the declaratio­n, the provincial government can now access 5 percent of its calamity fund for relief efforts.

In Puerto Princesa City, the extreme heat has dried up water sources, prompting the city council to declare a state of calamity.

The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), in a report to the city council, said water level in the city’s undergroun­d aquifers, which supply the bulk of the city’s needs, had reached the critical mark, prompting the local water cooperativ­e to ration water since late March. The CDRRMO also noted an increase in grass fires this year, with 91 cases reported in the first quarter of the year, surpassing 70 cases last year. City officials are banking on the declaratio­n so Puerto Princesa can tap local government resources in responding to a calamity situation.

The Department of Science and Technology, which has been releasing El Niño advisories, earlier identified Puerto Princesa as among the areas in the country expected to experience drought and “below to way-below-normal” rainfall.

While the CDRRMO report did not cite figures, it said the city agricultur­e office reported widespread agricultur­al damage due to the dry spell. It said agricultur­al productivi

ty was in a decline because of the warm temperatur­e that affected crops in various stages of developmen­t.

A report from the Philippine Atmospheri­c, Geophyisca­l and Astronomic­al Services Administra­tion said the country would experience the impact of El Niño until the second quarter of this year.

In the Bicol region, at least 473 hectares of land were damaged by El Niño since January, the National Irrigation Administra­tion said.

 ??  ?? ALTHOUGH patches of green are still visible in farms in Albay province, cracks on the soil start to worry farmers as the drought continues.
ALTHOUGH patches of green are still visible in farms in Albay province, cracks on the soil start to worry farmers as the drought continues.

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