THREE more towns in Iloilo province were placed under a state of calamity due to the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.
The towns of Januiay and Sta. Barbara made the declaration through a resolution passed by their respective Sangguniang Bayan on April 17, 2019 while Maasin followed after a special session on April 18, 2019.
Bingawan and Lambunao were the first two towns to make the declaration due to the prolonged dry spell.
According to Januiay Mayor Jose Lam de Paula, El Niño hit 40 of the 60 barangays in their town, directly affecting 986 farmers, and agricultural losses totaling P43 million.
“40 barangays out of 60 were affected in terms of rice and crops such as vegetables, corn, root crops and sugar cane,” he said.
De Paula said all 60 barangays in their town are also suffering from water shortage because of the El Niño.
“All of the 60 barangays including the Poblacion are affected by the water shortage. The Janiuay Water District reported that they can now only supply more than 1, 000 cubic meters of water compared to their regular 3, 000 cubic meters water supply,” he said.
On the other hand, 52 of the 60 barangays in Sta. Barbara were affected due to El Niño according to Mayor Dennis Superficial.
“Our estimated loss is at P21 million and mostly rice crops,” he said.
Aside from the damage on the crops, most of the water sources in their town have dried up because of El Niño, Superficial lamented.
Meanwhile, Maasin Mayor Mariano Malones said 32 of the 50 barangays in their town requested the declaration of a state of calamity because of the lack of potable and drinking water due to El Niño.
The estimated agricultural losses of Maasin is at P4 million, according to Malones.
Following the declaration of the state of calamity in their towns, the local government laid down each of their mitigating measures to counter the effects of El Niño.
De Paula said they will be utilizing P1.4 million out of their P8-million calamity fund to implement mitigating measures.
The mayor said they are now currently in the process of procuring food packs to be distributed to the affected families.
“Sa process pa lang kami sa procurement of food packs which would include canned goods, noodles, and potable water,” he said.
He added that they will be purchasing a water tank which was included in their 2019 budget to be used to augment water in the barangays affected by water shortage.
Meanwhile, the town of Maasin said they have requested the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) for augmentation of water supply to affected barangays.
Malones said they are now currently listing the affected barangays to be submitted to the national government to seek help.
For their mitigating measures, Superficial said they have prepared potable water, rice, and medicines for the affected households.
Just like Janiuay, Sta. Barbara’s calamity fund totals P8 million.
The mayors of the two towns lamented that their calamity funds are not enough to cope with their agricultural losses.
Superficial said their calamity fund would just be enough to lessen the effects of El Niño.
Meanwhile, De Paula said they are hoping to ask help from other agencies.
De Paula also appealed to the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to declare the province under a state of calamity.
Recently, the Iloilo Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) convened and approved a resolution recommending the declaration of a state of calamity in the province due to the continuing effects of the “weak” El Niño.
Concerned agencies and members of the council particularly the Departments of Agriculture (DA), of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), of Health (DOH), and of Trade and Industry (DTI) are required to submit their proposed mitigating measures which will then be submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
Only the SP can declare a state of calamity.
The SP is expected to discuss the recommendation of PDRMMC during its regular session today, April 23.