As the temperature continues to rise at a record-breaking level, recently in different places in the country, the health status and livelihood of many Filipinos may be affected, as the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (DOST-PAGASA) raised its monitoring status from El Niño Watch to El Niño Alert.
In an advisory issued on 02 May 2023, the DOST-PAGASA emphasized that they have been continuously monitoring the development of El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific.
“Recent conditions and model forecasts indicate that El Niño may emerge in the coming season (June-July-August) at 80% probability and may persist until the first quarter of 2024. With this development, the PAGASA El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Alert and Warning System is now raised to El Niño Alert,” DOST-PAGASA said.
The El Niño Watch was in effect from March 23 to May 1, 2023, before PAGASA raised the monitoring status to El Niño Alert.
The State Weather Bureau added that El Niño increases the likelihood of below-normal rainfall conditions which could bring negative impacts such as dry spells and droughts in some areas of the country.
This advisory from DOST-PAGASA will serve as a guide for everyone to prepare and provide timely and proper responses, particularly to the government.
Meanwhile, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) is once again reminding the public to heed the advisories from the DOST-PAGASA on El Niño and implement necessary measures in preparation for the negative impacts of the climate phenomenon.
In support of this, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), through OCD, issued a memorandum on 02 May 2023 to Regional DRRMCs and OCD Regional Offices on El Niño Alert, directing them to implement preparedness actions which include close monitoring of warnings from the DOST-PAGASA, issuance of reminders on water and energy conservation, maintenance of water distribution systems to prevent wastage, strengthening of risk communication and localization of warnings and reminders to communities, adherence to the public health advisory for El Niño and minimum health standards for COVID-19 issued by DOH, and the submission of regular reports to NDRRM Operations Center.
OCD Administrator Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno presided over an interagency meeting held on 24 April 2023, where he emphasized the need to identify and harmonize short-term solutions, medium-term, and long-term solutions of concerned government agencies for the El Niño phenomenon.
For his part, DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum Jr. echoed the concern on El Niño and urged the people to follow advisories from government agencies like DOST-PAGASA, DOH, and OCD to appropriately prepare.
“I assure everyone that our experts and scientists at the DOST-PAGASA will continue to look closely at the situation to provide timely and accurate information on El Niño status and guide other concerned agencies and local government units in crafting sound policy recommendations and appropriate actions in addressing the concerns on this current phenomenon,” said DOST Secretary Solidum Jr.
The composition of the proposed El Niño team to be led by the Department of the Interior and Local Government was presented by OCD who also serves as team co-chair, with the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST) together with the Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) as members.
It has a support team composed of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Water Resources Board (NWRB), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). (With information from the Office of Civil Defense)