MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker has called on state meteorologists to create government protocols whenever the country experiences extreme heat, such as during rainy seasons or during strong typhoons.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Valenzuela municipal deputy Eric Martinez said the protocol should be adapted specifically for the dry season, as climate change appears to be inevitable and a new normal for the world.

Martinez explained that the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) should adapt to these changes.

READ: Dangerous heat index of 42ºC – 43ºC affects 7 areas

New normal

“This is the new normal with global warming, and Pagasa also has to adapt to this new normal,” Martinez said.

“If there is a protocol for the rainy season, there should be one for the summer period,” he added.

Currently, Pagasa employs a tropical cyclone wind signal warning system, which is based on the wind speed of a cyclone. The warning has five levels – Signals Number One to Five.

READ: NDRRMC: Emergency response protocols activated amid Super Typhoon Betty

However, Martinez said Pagasa can only fulfill this mandate if it is elevated to a level where it is the main authority in climate-related decision-making.

This means, the lawmaker noted, that Pagasa must take a more active role in drafting policies and making important decisions when the issue involves the state of the country's climate.

“Pagasa should really be the agency that everyone listens to, not just the mayor who would say that because it is hot, classes will be suspended,” highlighted Martinez.

Taking precautions

Meanwhile, Rep. Ray Reyes of the Anakalusugan party-list urged the public to be vigilant regarding the possible prevalence of heat-induced illnesses as Pagasa continues to monitor high heat indices across the country.

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

Earlier, Pagasa said seven areas of the country had reached the “danger category” heat index – which ranges from 42 to 43 degrees Celsius.

“We really feel the intense heat and remind everyone to be more aware of its possible effects on our health,” said Reyes.

“Safety is of paramount importance and extreme care must be taken during these temperature spikes. We must be alert, especially if we have illnesses related to hot weather,” she added.

Reyes said taking preventive measures is important to avoid heat-induced illnesses – including ensuring workers are protected from unbearable working conditions.

“Heat-related illnesses are preventable. Some of the things we can do now are limit our time outdoors during midday, drink lots of water and avoid tea, coffee, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks,” said Reyes.

“Let us follow this advice for the well-being of our employees, especially those who perform manual work and who work outside the office,” he added, referring to Labor Council No. 8 of the Department of Labor and Employment, series of 2023.

The intense heat is felt in the country along with the El Niño phenomenon, which is characterized by Pagasa 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.

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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.