MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other government agencies to follow his administration's whole-of-nation approach in assisting farmers hit by environmental phenomena, El Niño and La Niña.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said Marcos directed the agencies involved in monitoring and managing the effects of the two phenomena to ensure public safety.

In particular, the PCO said the DA was asked to “coordinate closely” with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) to “evaluate any regulatory barriers imposed by the insurance commission” to ensure financial aid reaches farmers quickly.

READ: Pagasa: Drought could hit 24 provinces due to El Niño

Collect data

“The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – National Water Resources Board (NWRB) is mandated to collaborate with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) to collect data on water surplus and shortage situations,” PCO said.

“They are also required to engage in collaborative efforts to devise engineering solutions that alleviate the need for extreme water conservation measures and increase public awareness of the importance of building additional dams to mitigate the challenges posed by El Niño,” he added.

With the intense heat due to the El Niño season, PCO said Marcos asked the Department of Fire Protection to coordinate with the Department of Health in protecting vital healthcare facilities from fires.

Meanwhile, OCD will work with the Department of Tourism to mitigate the effects of El Niño in tourist areas.

READ: Government will use several ways to deal with the impacts of El Niño on HP – Marcos

Fire risks

“The Department of Fire Protection is also charged with coordinating with the Department of Health to evaluate and implement necessary measures to ensure the safety of healthcare facilities or hospitals against the threat of fire hazards,” PCO said.

“In turn, the OCD is tasked with working closely with the Department of Tourism (DOT) regarding the impact of the El Niño phenomenon on tourist areas, specifically addressing issues related to the availability of water, energy resources, public health and safety concerns. ”, he added.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) characterizes El Niño as the unusual increase in mean sea surface temperatures (SST) in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, resulting in warmer waters.

As a result, below-normal rainfall is expected, which could cause periods of drought and drought in several areas.

Last February, Pagasa said that 23 provinces in Luzon and one in the Visayas could be affected by a drought due to El Niño, saying the phenomenon could persist until May.

Preparing for La Niña

However, Pagasa is also preparing for La Niña – the opposite of El Niño – where the average SST is expected to be unusually colder than average. It generally results in higher rainfall in many areas of the country.

READ: El Niño, La Niña together? What to know

According to Pagasa monitoring, El Niño is showing signs of weakening, which means that after its peak in April and May, the country could transition to neutral El Niño Southern Oscillation conditions by June.

However, there is a 50 percent chance that La Niña will develop after this period.

Unable to save your signature. Please try again.

Your subscription was successful.

In December 2023, Marcos resurrected a task force aimed at responding to the effects of El Niño, anticipating the problems it could cause the country. Then, on March 2, Marcos Jr. assured the public that the government will use different strategies to deal with the effects of El Niño.