Cebu province placed under state of calamity

By Lesley Vestil

CEBU CITY – The Cebu provincial government has declared a state of calamity, following massive agricultural damage due to the ongoing weak El Niño.

On Monday, March 25, the Cebu Provincial Board (CPB) approved a resolution submitted by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) to declare Cebu under a state of calamity.

A carabao having a siesta time in a mud as it cools down from the intense heat of the sun in the rice fields in Talisay City. El Nino is expected to be experienced end of February to March as irrigations may lessen due to intense heat. (JUAN CARLO DE VELA / MANILA BULLETIN)
A carabao is having a siesta time in mud as it cools down from the intense heat of the sun in the rice fields in Talisay City. (JUAN CARLO DE VELA / MANILA BULLETIN)

Baltazar Tribunalo, PDRRMO head, told The Manila Bulletin that his office had recommended to the CPB the approval of the resolution following an assessment conducted in all of the affected areas in the province.

With the declaration of a state of calamity in the province, Cebu’s 51 local government units (LGUs) can start releasing their calamity funds to help assist affected sectors, particularly farmers whose crops and livestock were affected by the ongoing heat wave.

Tribunalo said the estimated agricultural damage caused by the weak El Niño in Cebu has already reached P100 million.

With the province now under a state of calamity, the PDRRMO can start releasing its available calamity fund worth P59 million to help assist farmers affected by the heat wave.

But Tribunalo admitted the P59 million in calamity funds will not be enough to help other affected areas such as island towns in Bantayan and Camotes and upland areas in Argao, Dalaguete, Toledo and Balamban.

The PDRRMO has also started sending teams to island barangays in northern Cebu to determine if their water supply was still adequate.

They received initial reports that residents in Kinatarkan Island in Santa Fe town have already reported massive water shortage in their area.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Central Visayas has started conducting a comprehensive monitoring of areas affected by the weak El Niño.

Joel Elumba, DA 7 technical director, told The Manila Bulletin that they have also started sending teams to conduct assessments on affected agricultural lands through drones.

Elumba said that as of now, the effect of the weak El Niño has not yet reached a majority of agricultural areas in the region, but clarified their assessment was still ongoing.