The entire province of Cebu was placed under a state of calamity on March 25, 2019 due to the effect El Niño phenomenon on the agro-fisheries sector.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Cebu approved the resolution declaring a state of calamity and allocated P59 million for the relief and assistance of affected farmers and fishermen.
The declaration was triggered by the recommendation of the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office to place the entire province under a state of calamity as the effect of the weak El Niño is already apparent in some Cebu’s farmlands and rivers.
PDRRMO Chief Baltazar Tribunalo said his decision to recommend for the calamity declaration came after his office conducted a rapid assessment in certain parts of the province last week, or days before tropical depression Chedding brought rains in Metro Cebu.
He said that his recommendation is timely as PAGASA already declared the existence of the mild El Nino and that farmers and residents in the shore and mountain areas already felt the low supply of water, which will eventually affect their livelihood.
Some farmers have stopped planting their seasonal crops because of the prolonged heat and the decreasing supply of water in most areas in the province.
Tribunalo said that the farmers’ decision not to plant seasonal crops due to the dry spell is a manifest disruption of their livelihood. Tribunalo said that this matter is the essence of the state of calamity as provided under Republic Act 10121 also known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.
Under RA 10121, a state of calamity is defined as “a condition involving mass casualty and/or major damages to property, disruption of means of livelihoods, roads and normal way of life of people in the affected areas as a result of the occurrence of natural or human-induced hazard.”
In a report by the City Agriculturist of Carcar furnished to the Provincial Agriculturist Office last March 15, aquaculture and fisheries projects in certain barangays underwent transfers, emergency harvest, decreased water supply and dryness brought about by the increase in temperature.
In Barangay Calidngan, a reported 15,000 stocks of Tilapia under fishcage type aquaculture were transferred to another location due to the decreasing water. However, the stocks perished upon relocation due to the hot temperature, the report said.
Also in Calidngan, some 6,000 tilapia stocks under fishcage and fishpond type aquaculture suffered emergency harvest, while 1 unit of fishcage aquaculture with an area of 250 cubic meters suspended its repair operation due to the hot weather. The unit reportedly has 5,000 tilapia stocks.
In Barangay Guadalupe, four units of fishpond-type aquaculture with a maximum area of 360 cubic meters and 3,000 tilapia stocks experienced low water problem and stagnated growth among the Tilapia species caused by the hot weather.
In Barangay Bolinawan, 3,000 meters of seaweed farm suffered dry stems and bacterial infection due to the high temperature.
Alcantara town also reported that 75 percent of the 4,000 Tilapia fingerlings died due to the hot sea weather.
Since January this year, fishery technician Gina Parela, in the report, said fisherfolks can harvest a maximum of one kilo of fish variety per day. Before the El Nino, fishermen can have a daily maximum catch of three kilos a day. These varieties include Danggit, Gisaw, Bunong and Pasayan.
The report added that the town’s Danggit, Bangus and seaweed farms also suffered impairment caused primarily by the water’s temperature. Fish corals were also damaged by the crashing wind last February, the report added.
Tribunalo said that once the declaration is raised by the Provincial Government, it can extend immediate aid to some priority areas, such as Argao and Dalaguete towns.
This year, the Cebu Province has allotted at least P89 million for Quick Respond Fund (QRF) to address the effects of the looming El Niño.
He added that among the mitigation mechanisms of the PDDRMO include the installation of water tanks, participation of the newly inaugurated water systems as main water source in LGUs, and the utilization of trucks to provide water rations to affected priority areas.
Last Feb. 28, the Provincial Disaster Risk-Reduction Management Council approved the PDRRMO’s recommendation to place the province under the state of preparedness to brace for the impact of the prolonged heat weather, which is expected to last for three to four months.